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Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Cocos Islands, Territory of Australia

Last modified: 2008-12-13 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: cocos | keeling | territory | island | australia | cluniess-ross | palm tree | crescent: yellow | southern cross: yellow | stars: southern cross | stars: 7 points |
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[Flag of Cocos Islands] image by Mello Luchtenberg, 23 March 2004

See also


The flag is green, with a palm tree on a gold disc in the canton, a gold crescent in the centre of the flag and a gold southern cross in the fly, as in the Australian flag. [Ed.]

The drawing is based on a table flag I have received from Ron Strachan. I do not have much information about it. Only that the flag was confirmed to me by a tourist agency located on the islands.
Mello Luchtenberg, 23 March 2003

According to Darwin flag manufacturer, Ronald Strachan , this flag was designed locally via the Office of the Island's Administrator in early 2003. As far as Ron is aware this flag has not yet been officially adopted. He is still trying to obtain further details about the flag, which he was contracted to make for the Islanders.
Ralph Bartlett, 27 March 2004

I decided to turn my research to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. I wrote to the general info address at the Shire of Cocos (Keeling)Islands and they told me the flag was made official. I asked if the flag was official and provided a description. Ibrahim Macrae wrote back:

Thank you for your email. Yes the flag described is the official flag for the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
I wrote back to Mr. Macrae and asked when the flag was made official and mentioned the 2003 date I've seen on FOTW. He wrote back:
Yes the territory flag was made official in 2003. However, Cocos Islands carry the Australian national flag as it is an Australian territory.
Joshua Holman, 4 November 2006

I think some of the talk here and elsewhere regarding the use of the Australian flag in territories is slightly misleading. The Australian national flag is used in the Indian Ocean territories and flagless territories like Jervis Bay and the Heard and Macquarie Islands, but this isn't really much more remarkable than its use in the self governing territories and the states. It is flown as the national flag, not as the flag of the territory, and the question of how much a territorial flag is used is a separate question.
Jonathan Dixon, 6 November 2006

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands Territory Flag was officially adopted on the 6th April 2004 which is the year of the Self Determination Day.
forwarded from Ibrahim Macrae, Cocos Islands Shire, by Ben Cahoon, 5 July 2007

Council Flag

In the web site of Cocos (Keeeling) Islands' local council there's a photo of the councillors and behind them Australia's flag and a flag with the Council's logo and (unfortunately) no sign of the local flag!
P. Renesis, 5 November 2006

In fact Cocos Island are using three flags, due to their dual status. The Australian and Cocos flags are used by the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and the logo flag on the picture is used by the Shire Council of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Although Cocos Islands are external territory of the Commonwealth of Australia, they are also a shire.
Valentin Poposki, 6 November 2006

The Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands exists as a shire under Western Australian local government legislation, It has a "dual status" in that while the area is an external territory, it has a council which deals with local government responsibilities. The council use a flag which, as a "logo on a bedsheet", is probably only for the use of the council. The other flag, which seems to be have originated with the Territory Administration (appointed by the Australian federal government), appears to be representative of the territory as a whole. It is worth noting that Christmas Island has a similar status, and I would suggest that the difference in flag use is simply historical in that in the Christmas Island case it was the council's predecessor which chose the flag which has since been adopted by the administration.
Jonathan Dixon, 6 November 2006


The Cocos Islands lay the Indian ocean, off the West coast of Australia, approximately one-half the way between Australia and Sri Lanka.
James Dignan, 8 December 1995


Between 1831 and 1857, the Cocos Islands constituted a feudal "fiefdom", and was ruled by John Cluniess-Ross. In 1886, Queen Victoria relinquished the islands to the Cluniess-Ross family, who then proclaimed their islands as a kingdom, and themselves as monarchs. Of course, this title was not recognized by the British or the Australians. In the 1980s, after tremendous pressure, "King" Ross V. handed the islands over to Australia.
Jaume Ollé, Christopher Vance, and Harald Muller, 1 August 1996

from The Statesman's Yearbook (1993-94):

Although the Cocos (Keeling) islands were discovered in 1609 by Capt. William Keeling of the East India Company, they remained uninhabited until 1826, when the first settlement was established on the main atoll by an Englishmen, Alexander Hare, with a group of followers, predominantly of Malay origin. Hare left the islands in 1831, by which time a second settlement had been formed on the main atoll by John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish seaman and adventurer, who began commercial development of the islands' coconut palms.

In 1857 the islands were annexed to the Crown; in 1878 responsibility was transferred from the Colonial Office to the Government of Ceylon, and in 1886 to the Government of the Straits Settlements. By indenture in 1886 Queen Victoria granted all land in the islands to George Clunies-Ross and his heirs in perpetuity (with certain rights reserved to the Crown). In 1803 the islands were incorporated in the Settlement of Singapore and in 1942-46 temporarily placed under the Governor of Ceylon. In 1946 a Resident Administrator, responsible to the Governor of Singapore, was appointed.

On 23 Nov. 1955 the Cocos Islands were placed under the authority of the Australian Government as the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands. An Administrator, appointed by the Government's representative in the Territory and is responsible to the Minister for Territories and Local Government. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands Council, established as the elected body of the Cocos Malay community in July 1979, advises the Administrator on all issues affecting the Territory.

In 1978 the Australian Government purchased the Clunies-Ross family's entire interests in the islands, except for the family residence for A$6.250.000. A Cocos Malay co-operative was established to take over the running of the Clunies-Ross copra plantation and to engage in other business with the Commonwealth in the Territory, including construction projects.

The islands became world-famous when in 1914 the German cruiser 'Emden' was sunk by the Australian cruiser Sydney.

According to the Dutch author Boudewijn Buch (Eenzaam, 1992)the only book about the atolls is 'The Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Australian atolls in the Indian Ocean', by Pauline Bunch, 1988, available at Robert Muirs antiquariat in Perth, and at the Post Office of West Island; In the community center of Home Island there were in 1992 50 boxes with copies of that book.
Jarig Bakker, 11 November 1998

Coat of arms

Nothing was found about a flag, but at the beginning of the century, the Cluniess-Ross family issued coins and banknotes with a coat of arms (coa). The shield is quartered. Fields 1 and 4 contain a standing bird (like a duck) looking to the right, 2 and 3 have a fish. In the center of the shield the letter "Z" is displayed. The shield is between two palm trees and stands on on a piece of soil. Below, there is a scroll with the motto "Pro Patria". There is also a crest, but it's hardly recognizable since the coins are very crude. However, it is not certain if this is the coat of arms of the Cocos islands. It is more probably the coa of the Cluniess-Ross family.
Harald Muller, 30 July 1996