Have you heard of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands? Nope? We thought so. Frankly, we didn’t know about its existence either until quite recently too. But how is it that we’re completely ignorant of an island nearby that has people like us roaming on it for the past 200 years is beyond us.
Here are 11 facts you should know about the Cocos Islands!
#1 The total land area of Cocos Islands is 5.4 square miles (14 square kilometres).
#2 The official languages of Cocos Islands are Malay and English.
#3 Cocos Islands’ population was a mere 546 in 2016!
#4 The archipelago consists of 27 coral islands, although only two are inhabited: West Island and Home Island. The West Island is inhabited by the Anglo-Australians, whereas those who reside in Home Island are the indigenous Malay-Muslim community. Hence, the pubs are just as crowded as the mosques!
#5 Its main export is copra (coconut husks). There’s barely any agriculture—most basic items and foodstuff must be imported from the Australian mainland.
#6 Captain William Keeling discovered the island in 1609, but it remained uninhabited until the 19th century. One of the first settlers was Captain John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish merchant seaman, who brought in Malay workers and slaves to work on his copra plantation.
#7 The name was derived from the abundance of coconuts that lined the coast, and Captain Keeling, who first discovered the island. Thus, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands!
#8 It‘s located halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka, and is in the shape of a horse shoe in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
#9 It was a British territory until it was transferred to the commonwealth of Australia in 1955. The Cocos Islanders are full-fledged Australians. They are currently seeking to be recognised as an indigenous people status, much like the First People and the Australian Aboriginals.
#10 The Cocos Islanders’ cultural identity is an adaptation of the early Malay settlers, and their colonial masters. Their traditional dances are much akin to Scottish dancing, but with people wearing the hijab and baju melayu dancing it!
#11 Aside from the Australian channels, they actually receive Malaysian TV channels too ie TV3, ntv7, 8TV and TV9!
We know this has been pretty mind-blowing to you to think that somewhere in the Indian ocean there are people that look just like us, speaking in an Australian accent! LOL.
If you want to visit Cocos Islands, you’re going to have to head over to Perth first. Then, it’s a seven-hour flight to reach the island from there because there aren’t any direct flights just yet. If you’re up for an adventure, then head over to the land where some of our ancestors settled. Who knows, you might end up meeting your long-lost cousin!