BRITISH INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORY - GEOGRAPHY AND COMMUNICATIONS

Diego Garcia

Geography and communications

The territory is an archipelago of 55 islands, the largest being Diego Garcia, accounting for almost three-quarters of the total land area of the territory, which is 60 km². The terrain is flat and low, with most areas not exceeding 2 metres above sea level. The climate is tropical marine; hot, humid, and moderated by trade winds.



With the exception of one two-lane motorway, most of the islands in the territory have no roads of any sort. Diego Garcia has a short stretch of paved road between the port and airfield; otherwise most transport is by bicycle.



Diego Garcia's military base is home to the territory's only airport. At 3000 metres long, it is capable of supporting very heavy USAF bombers like the B-52 and the Space Shuttle in the event of a mission abort. It also has a major seaport.



Demographics

The total population was reported at 4,000 in 2006, of whom 2,200 were American military personnel or contractors, 1,400 were Filipino contract workers, 300 were Mauritian contract workers, and 100 were members of the British Armed Forces. It is believed the population has significantly decreased since the end of US bombing operations from the island in August 2006.