Discovered in 1609 by Capt. William Keeling of the East India Company, the uninhabited Cocos Islands were settled in 1826 by Alexander Hare, an Englishman. A second settlement was founded in 1827 by John Clunies-Ross, a Scottish seaman, who landed with a group of Malay sailors. In 1857 the islands were annexed to the British crown. Queen Victoria granted the lands to the Clunies-Ross family in 1886 in return for the right to use any land on the island for public purposes. In 1903, as a dependency of Britain's Singapore colony, the islands were included in the Straits Settlements; they were placed under Australian administration in 1955. In 1978, Australia purchased the Clunies-Ross family's interests in the islands, except for the family estate, and island residents voted to become part of Australia in 1984. Australia purchased the last Clunies-Ross-owned property in the islands in 1993.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Pacific Islands Political Geography