Island group, central Indian Ocean. Located about 1,000 mi (1,600 km) south of the tip of the Indian subcontinent, it has a total area of 23 sq mi (60 sq km). Acquired by Britain from France in 1814, it was originally administered by Britain as a dependency of Mauritius; since 1976 it has been the sole member of the British Indian Ocean Territory. Strategically situated at the centre of the Indian Ocean, its chief island, Diego Garcia, was developed as an air and naval refueling station by the U.S. and Great Britain in the mid 20th century, over the strong opposition from the region's coastal and island states.
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