1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chagos

CHAGOS, a group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, belonging to Britain, disposed in circular form round the Chagos bank, in 4° 44′ to 7° 39′ S., and 70° 55′ to 72° 52′ E. The atolls on the south and east side of the bank, which has a circumference of about 270 m., have disappeared through subsidence; a few—Egmont, Danger, Eagle, and Three Brothers—still remain on the east side, but most of the population (about 700) is centred on Diego Garcia, which lies on the south-east side, and is nearly 13 m. long by 6 m. wide. The lagoon, which is enclosed by two coral barriers and accessible to the largest vessels on the north side, forms one of the finest natural harbours in the world. The group, which has a total land area of 76 sq. m., is dependent for administrative purposes on Mauritius, and is regularly visited by vessels from that colony. The only product is cocoa-nut oil, of which about 106,000 gallons are annually exported. The French occupied the islands in 1791 from Mauritius, and the oil industry (from which the group is sometimes called the Oil Islands) came into the hands of French Creoles.