CHAGOS, A BRIEF HISTORY.
I grew up thinking that "history" was a dull and uninteresting topic which
mainly revolved around memorising dates, but have come to be fascinated by
the stories that go with it and wondering about the lives of the individuals
that make up "history".
Living in and travelling to interesting places helps to bring history alive,
and this little corner of the Indian ocean is no exception.
Strangely, Chagos was never settled by the sea faring nations surrounding
it, like the Maldives, Seychelles, Reunion or Mauritius.
In 1783 a concession was granted under French rule for the production of
coconut oil. Slave labour was brought from Mozambique and Mdagascar. Fish,
guano (bird poo. I wonder who buys the stuff...) and tortoises were also
1814. Brittan kicks Napoleon's butt and gains Chagos as part of the spoils
of victory. It's administered from the recently won Seychelles.
1840s-1860s. Indentured workers are brought from India. The population
tops out at about two thousand.
1965. BIOT (British Indian Ocean Territories) was formed, comprising Chagos
Archipelago, Aldabra Island, Farquhar Group and Desroches. The later three
were returned to Seychelles following her independence in 1975.
1960's. The mighty US of A decided that a cold war base in the Indian Ocean
would be a good idea. They negotiate with Britain and sign a lease for a
dollar a year, and Britain move all residents off the whole of Chagos,
although they take only Diego Garcia for their base.
1968-1973. Over two thousand residents are removed to the newly independent
state of Mauritius. 2000. The people of Chagos won the right in the High
Court in London to return to their islands, except Diago Garcia.
2014. The US lease of Diago Garcia expires, but it seems likely to be
Plenty of evidence of the earlier inhabitation can be seen on a couple of
islands, Boddam in particular. The jungle has claimed back most of the
buildings- it's a bit of a guess what most of them originally served as.
The church, jail and hospital, donkey pens, miniature railway (for
transporting copra) can all be made out.
We got a copy of a CD containing old photos from some other cruisers. We'll
sort out some "now and then" photos for upload to the blog once we get back
to a decent bandwidth.