General issues: British colony 1965-1976, British dependency 1990-2002, British overseas territory 2002-Present
Country name on general issues: B.I.O.T., British Indian Ocean Territory
Currency: 1 Rupee = 100 Cent 1965-1976, 1 Pound = 100 Pence 1990-Present
Population: 7 000 in 1965, 3 000 military and civil staff in 2015
Political history British Indian Ocean Territory
The British Indian Ocean Territory is located in the Indian Ocean at 3,650 kilometers from the coast of eastern Africa. The British Indian Ocean Territory was formed as a British colony in 1965 from the Aldabra Atoll, the Farquhar Atoll and Desroches Island, formerly part of the Seychelles and the Chagos Archipelago which was formerly part of Mauritius. The goal was to establish – in cooperation with the United States – a number military bases to replace the bases that had been lost to countries that in the 1960’s had gained independence.
The plans for the Aldabra Atoll, the Farquhar Atoll and Desroches Island were never realized and these islands were returned to the Seychelles when the Seychelles gained independence in 1976.
The 2,000 strong civilian population of the Chagos Archipelago – people with African, Indian and Malayan roots – were forcibly moved, between 1967 and 1973, to Great Britain, Mauritius and the Seychelles. On the main island of Diego Garcia a United States Air Force base has been established since 1973. The Chagos Archipelago has no civilian population other than what is required to support the air force base. The British Indian Ocean Territory probably became a British dependent territory in 1981 and, since 2002, has the status of British overseas territory. The Chagos Archipelago is contested by Mauritius and the Seychelles.
Postal history British Indian Ocean Territory
Stamps have been issued for the British staff based in the British Indian Ocean territory from 1968 until 1976. From 1976 until 1990, mail services were provided by the military. A civilian service was resumed in 1990 for the British civilian support staff on the Chagos Archipelago.