The Coral Sea Islands Territory includes a grouping of small tropical islands and reefs in the Coral Sea, northeast of Australia, around 18°N, 152°E. They are scattered over a sea area of about 1 million km², with the Willis Islets the most important, and total over 3 000 km of shoreline, but less than three square kilometers of land and no ports or harbors, only offshore anchorage. They are important nesting areas for birds and turtles, but their natural resources are negligible.
The territory was created in 1969 by the Coral Sea Islands Act and extended in 1997 to include Middleton Reef and Elizabeth Reef far to the South. It is a possession of Australia, administered from Canberra by the Australian Department of the Environment, which has control over the activities of visitors. Defense is the responsibility of Australia, and the territory is visited regularly by the Royal Australian Navy. Australia maintains automatic weather stations on many of the isles and reefs, and claims a 200 nautical mile exclusive fishing zone. There is no permanent population, only a staff of three or four people to run the meteorological station on Willis Island, and no economic activity. The territory's data code is CR.
Last updated: 05-06-2005 01:27:49