British Indian Ocean Territory


Map of British Indian Ocean TerritoryFlag of British Indian Ocean Territory

















In 1965 the British Indian Ocean Territory, in the heart of the Indian Ocean, was formed comprising the six island groups in the Chagos Archipelago, formerly administered by Mauritius, and three island groups purchased from the Seychelles: Aldabra Islands, Farquhar Islands and Desroches Islands.


When Seychelles became independent in 1976 the purchased islands were returned and became the district of Outer Islands (Zil Elwagne Sesel). BIOT since then only consists of the Chagos Archipelago with Diego Garcia as its main island. The other islands of Chagos are uninhabited.


Diego Garcia was discovered by Portuguese explorers in the early 1500s. It is the largest of 52 islands which form the Chagos Archipelago. The island's name is believed to have come from either the ship's captain or the navigator. Once located, the island just as quickly disappeared from maps of the Indian Ocean for many years until it was relocated and claimed by the French in the early 1700s. Diego Garcia remained under French control until after the Napoleonic Wars (about 1814) when possession was ceded to the British.


In 1965, with the formation of the British Indian Ocean Territory, Diego Garcia was under administrative control of the British government of the Seychelles. With the formation of the BIOT, a formal agreement was signed between the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States in 1966 making the island available to satisfy defence needs of both governments. In 1976, when the Seychelles gained independence, the BIOT became a self-administering territory under the East African Desk of the British Foreign Office.


Until 1971, Diego Garcia's main source of income was from the profitable copra oil plantation. At one time copra oil from Diego Garcia and other nearby islands provided fine machine oil and fuel to light European lamps. During approximately 70 years of plantation life, coconut harvests on Diego Garcia remained fairly constant, at about four million nuts annually, until just prior to the arrival of the US Navy Seabees and the start-up of US military construction.


Following the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979, Diego Garcia saw the most dramatic build-up of any location since the Vietnam War era. And in 1986, Diego Garcia became fully operational with the completion of a $ 500-million construction program.


Its strategic location and full range of facilities make the island the last link in the long logistics chain, which supports a vital US and British naval presence in the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea.


Between 1967 and 1973, former agricultural workers, earlier residents in the islands, were relocated primarily to Mauritius, but also to the Seychelles. Negotiations between 1971 and 1982 resulted in the establishment of a trust fund by the British Government as compensation for the displaced islanders, known as Chagossians. Beginning in 1998, the islanders pursued a series of lawsuits against the British Government seeking further compensation and the right to return to the territory.


In 2006 and 2007, British court rulings invalidated the immigration policies contained in the 2004 BIOT Constitution Order that had excluded the islanders from the archipelago, but upheld the special military status of Diego Garcia. In 2008, the House of Lords, as the final court of appeal in the UK, ruled in favour of the British Government by overturning the lower court rulings and finding no right of return on the part of the Chagossians.


BIOT stamps were issued from 1968 to 1976. From that date British and US military used their own postal services. In 1990 the issue of stamps was continued.




Capital:                      Diego Garcia

Government:              British Overseas Territory

Area:                         60 km²

Population:                 3.500

Currency:                   British Pound (100 pence); generally used: United States Dollar (100 cents)

Internet TLD:             .io

Dialling code:             +246






British Indian Ocean Territory in Wikipedia.

Flag of British Indian Ocean Territory in Flags of the World.

The website of the Philatelic Service.

Country description from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Country description of British Indian Ocean Territory from the CIA.




Stamp catalogue


International Year of the Ocean

date:                  7 December 1998

designer:            Nick Shewring

printer:               Walsall Security Printers, Walsall

perforated:         13¾:14


1     26 p             Bryde's Whale, IYO emblem, text "Bryde's Whale Balaenoptera edeni"


                          (cat. Michel 227/SG 220)



2     26 p             Striped Dolphins, IYO emblem, text "Striped Dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba"


                          (cat. Michel 228/SG 221)


British Indian Ocean Territory - stamp as described above


3     34 p             Pilot Whales, IYO emblem, text "Pilot Whale Globicephala macrorhynchus"


                          (cat. Michel 229/SG 222)


British Indian Ocean Territory - stamp as described above


4     34 p             Spinner Dolphins, IYO emblem, text "Spinner Dolphin Stenella longirostris"


                          (cat. Michel 230/SG 223)


British Indian Ocean Territory - stamp as described above



International Year of Astronomy

date:                  20 July 2009

designer:            CASCO Studios

printer:               The Lowe Martin Group, Ottawa, Canada

perforated:         13:13

size souv. sheet: 80 x 100 mm

remark:              stamps commemorate 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon flight and landing; printed in

                          sheets of six stamps (IYA and moon landing jubilee emblems, text "SPACE EXPLORATION")


5     54 p             rocket, moon landing jubilee emblem, text "Early Rocket Development - 'Corporal' and 'Private'"


                          (cat. Michel /SG )


6     54 p             vertical take off and landing aircraft, moon landing jubilee emblem, text "'Flying Bedstead', 1964'"


                          (cat. Michel /SG )


7     54 p             rocket at launch site, moon landing jubilee emblem, text "Apollo Launch Site, 1969'"


                          (cat. Michel /SG )


8     54 p             rocket taking off, moon landing jubilee emblem, text "Space Transportation System 71 launch,



                          (cat. Michel /SG )


9     90 p             space station and astronaut, moon landing jubilee emblem, text "ESA Columbus Laboratory STS

                          122, 2008'"


                          (cat. Michel /SG )


10                       souvenir sheet, painting by Captain Alan Bean, US flag, antenna, IYA and moon landing jubilee

                          emblems, text "SPACE EXPLORATION"

       £ 1.50          astronaut, moon landing jubilee emblem, text "PAINTING BY ASTRONAUT CAPT. ALAN BEAN'"


                          (cat. Michel block /SG MS )


British Indian Ocean Territory - souvenir sheet as described above









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last revised: 14 November 2009