The atoll of Diego Garcia is located in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and is nicknamed the “Footprint of Freedom!” This lush, tropical paradise is located seven degrees south of the equator is the largest of more than 60 islands that make up the Chagos Archipelago with an international population consisting primarily of Filipino and Mauritius contractors, British forces and the U.S. military. The island stretches about 38 miles tip to tip and has an average elevation of four feet above sea level with maximum elevation of 22 feet. The lagoon varies in depth from 10 to 100 feet.
Since Diego Garcia is in the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed compared to the U.S. and change very little with year-round temperatures in the high 80s during the day and lows at night in the 70s. It rains often with a normal year measuring more than 100 inches, most occurring during the summer months of December and January.
Shallow reefs surround the island on the ocean side and are scattered inside the lagoon. The waters surrounding Diego Garcia are home to a vast variety of sea life, with more than 700 species recorded. Some of the world’s finest snorkeling and ocean sports are available.
Wildlife on the island consists mainly of coconut, land and warrior crabs; small lizards and geckos; feral donkeys; a myriad of tropical birds and many insects. All residents make every effort to maintain the ecological integrity of Diego Garcia, as a result- all life forms on island, including live shellfish, are protected by British law.
Entry into Diego Garcia is restricted requiring area clearance by U.S. Navy Support Facility Diego Garcia. Only active duty, unaccompanied military personnel, or authorized contractors can be assigned to the island. Active duty military couples are not allowed concurrent assignments to Diego Garcia. As a British Territory, all civilian and military personnel residing on the island come under British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) law and administration. These laws differ from those in the United States.