In addition to Rodrigues Island, Mauritius controls a far-flung area of ocean and some distant islands. These include the Algalega Islands (750 mi/1,200 km north of Mauritius), where a few people grow copra. There is an airstrip, but no regular air service. Also north of Mauritius are the Cargados Carajos Shoals (main island, St. Brandon), an atoll of 22 islands and large areas of coral reef. Tromelin Island (northwest of Mauritius) is a tiny speck claimed by France and Mauritius; it has a weather station and an airstrip. The Chagos Islands are constituted as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and extend over an area of 10,000 sq mi/25,900 sq km.
Diego Garcia is the largest and southernmost of 64 islands that form the archipelago. The British leased Diego Garcia to the U.S. in the 1960s, and it is home to the U.S. Navy's largest base in the Indian Ocean. The population of Diego Garcia, mainly fishermen, was sent 1,000 mi/1,610 km to Mauritius. In 2004, the British government decided to issue them British passports, so that they can settle in the U.K. However, the islanders have appealed court decisions denying their return to the island.
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