Diego Garcia is an atoll just south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean, and the largest of 60 small islands comprising the Chagos Archipelago. It was settled by the French in the 1790s and was transferred to British rule after the Napoleonic Wars and it was one of the Dependencies of the British Colony of Mauritius until it was detached for inclusion in the newly created British Indian Ocean Territory in 1965. Between 1968 and 1973, the population was removed by the United Kingdom through intimidation of locals. Many were deported to Mauritius and Seychelles, following which the United States built a naval and military base on Diego Garcia. As of March 2015, Diego Garcia is the inhabited island of the BIOT. The atoll is located 3,535 km east of Tanzanias coast,1,796 km south-southwest of the tip of India and 4,723 km west-northwest of the west coast of Australia. According to Southern Maldivian oral tradition, traders and fishermen were occasionally lost at sea, eventually, they were rescued and brought back home. However, the different atolls of the Chagos have no names in the Maldivian oral tradition. Nothing is known of pre-European contact history of Diego Garcia, speculations include visits during the Austronesian diaspora around 700 AD, as some say the old Maldivian name for the islands originated from Malagasy. Arabs, who reached Lakshadweep and Maldives around 900 AD, may have visited the Chagos, another Portuguese expedition with a Spanish explorer of Andalusian origin, Diego García de Moguer, rediscovered the island in 1544 and named it after himself. Garcia de Moguer died the year on the return trip to Portugal in the Indian Ocean. The misnomer Diego could have been made unwittingly by the British ever since and it is assumed that the island was named after one of its first two discoverers—the one by the name of Garcia, the other with name Diego. Also, a cacography of the saying Deo Gracias is eligible for the attribution of the atoll, the Sebastian Cabot map shows a number of islands to the south which may be the Mascarene Islands. The first map which identifies and names Los Chagos is that of Pierre Desceliers, an island called Don Garcia appears on the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of Abraham Ortelius, together with Dos Compagnos, slightly to the north. It may be the case that Don Garcia was named after Garcia de Noronha, the island is also labelled Don Garcia on Mercators Nova et Aucta Orbis Terrae Descriptio ad Usum Navigatium Emendate. However, on the Vera Totius Expeditionis Nauticae Description of Jodocus Hondius, Don Garcia mysteriously changes its name to I. de Dio Gratia, while the I. de Chagues appears close by. The first map to delineate the island under its present name, Diego Garcia, is the World Map of Edward Wright, possibly as a result of misreading Dio as Diego, and Gratia as Garcia. The Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica of Hendrik Hondius II repeats Wrights use of the name, which is then proliferated on all subsequent Dutch maps of the period, Diego Garcia and the rest of the Chagos islands were uninhabited until the late 18th century
Aerial photograph of Diego Garcia
This 1982 photo shows an unpaved road made of crushed coral common throughout the island and the officers' dining area at the Diego Garcia Naval Support Facility.
Coconut plantation, East Point (former main settlement)