Keeling Cocos Islands

The Keeling Cocos Islands is an external territory of Australia consisting of two atolls. The territory lies in the Indian Ocean between Sri Lanka and Australia and close to Sumatra. Its dual name conveys that the archipelago has been known as Cocos Islands and the Keeling Islands. It was called Cocos Islands because of its abundant coconut trees, and Keeling Islands in honor of William Keeling who discovered the nation in 1609. The nation has only two inhabited islands, namely, the West Island and the Home Island, and has a population of approximately 600.

Although discovered in 1609, the settlement of the Keeling Cocos Islands only started in the early 19th century. One of its first inhabitants was Scottish salesman John Clunies-Ross along with his family. Clunies-Ross recruited Malays to work for him as coconut harvesters.  

The nation has limited economic activity with the private sector providing most of the jobs in administration, education, local government, and health services. Meanwhile, the private sector is mostly under the Australian Government and mainly provides services to the nation. Small enterprises offer accommodation, mechanical services, cleaning, gardening, and tourism. Because of the limitations on the number of tourist beds and transportation to and from the islands, the islands’ tourism is low. 

In the 1870s, the Clunies-Ross family issued their own currency in rupees copper denomination. The first issue of notes was printed on sheepskin and signed by King J. C. Ross. The name COCOS appeared at the top of the banknotes and bear an embossed seal on their obverse. The second issue of the Cocos Islands rupee banknotes was only printed on sheepskin and carried the signature of the king and with the name KEELING COCOS ISLANDS. These paper bills contain a printed coat of arms depicting two palm trees on each side of a quartered shield. The third series of banknotes was issued in 1897, printed on paper, and had printed serial numbers. These banknotes were denominated in rupees instead of rupees copper.  In 1902, the Clunies Ross dynasty released another family of notes. These uniface banknotes feature the coat of arms of the islands, dates, and signatures but with no serial numbers.

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