General issues: Australian territory 1963-Present
Country name on general issues: Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling =12 Pence 1963-1966, 1 Dollar = 100 Cents 1966-Present
Population: 1 000 in 1963, 600 in 2014
Political history Cocos (Keeling) Islands
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are a group of islands located in the Indian Ocean, west of Australia and south of Indonesia – for the exact location, please refer to the map of Modern Asia.The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are geographically part of Asia. However, because they are an Australian Territory, they are discussed as part of Oceania. Having alternately been called Cocos Islands – after the abundant coconut trees – and Keeling Islands – after the first European to sight the islands, the official name of the islands is, since 1955, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Prior to European settlement, the Cocos Islands were uninhabited. The islands were first sighted by the British seafarer William Keeling in 1609. John Clunies-Ross first settled the islands in 1827. The British formally annexed the islands in 1857 as a colony. The Cocos Islands were attached to Ceylon in 1878 and, subsequently, transferred to the Straits Settlements in 1886. Also in 1886, the Clunies-Ross family was granted the rights to the islands in perpetuity.
During WWII, when the Straits Settlements were occupied by Japan, the Cocos Islands were once again administered by Ceylon – with the exception of Direction Island and West Island that were under Allied military administration, serving as an air base for flight squadrons in the Pacific theater of War. After the war, in 1946, the Cocos Islands were – together with Christmas Island – attached to Singapore. In the advent of the independence of Singapore, the Cocos Islands were transferred to Australia in 1955. In 1978, the Australian government bought the rights to the islands from the Clunies-Ross family. Until today, the Cocos Islands are an Australian territory.
Economically, coconuts are the sole cash crop. In recent years a small tourist sector has emerged. Two islands are inhabited – Home Island and West Island. The population consists of people of European and Malayan descent.
Postal history Cocos (Keeling) Islands
A postal agency operated on the Cocos Islands between 1933 and 1937, using the stamps of the Straits Settlements. A postal agency was again opened in 1952, now using the stamps of Singapore. Subsequent to the transfer of the Cocos Islands to Australia, Australian stamps were used until the first stamps were issued for the Cocos Islands in 1963. After the change of currency to the dollar, Australian stamps were again used between 1966 and 1969, when the first stamps were issued for the Cocos Islands in the new currency. The issues of the Cocos Islands are a blend of themes of local interest and themes aimed at the thematic collectors market.
The stamps for the Cocos Islands were issued by the Australian Post Office between 1963 and 1979 and were also valid for use in Australia. Between 1979 and 1994 the Cocos Islands had an independent stamp issuing policy. Since 1994, the stamps for the Cocos Islands are issued by Australia Post and they are, since then, valid for use also in Australia and its territories and vice versa.In the Australian Antarctic Territory and on Christmas Island since 1994 and on Norfolk Island since 2016.