Coral Sea Islands

Introduction Scattered over more than three-quarters of a million square kilometers of ocean, the Coral Sea Islands were declared a territory of Australia in 1969. They are uninhabited except for a small meteorological staff on the Willis Islets. Automated weather stations, beacons, and a lighthouse occupy many other islands and reefs.
History

The Coral Sea Islands were first charted in 1803; in the 1870 and 1880s the islands were mined for guano but the absence of a permanent supply of fresh water prevented long-term habitation.[1] The territory was created in 1969 by the Coral Sea Islands Act (before, the area was considered part of Queensland) and extended in 1997 to include Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs nearly 800 km further South, already in the Tasman Sea. The two latter reefs are much closer to Lord Howe Island, New South Wales (about 150 km) than to the southernmost island of the rest of the territory, Cato Island. The islands, cays and reefs of the Great Barrier Reef are not part of the territory, belonging to Queensland instead. The outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef is the boundary between Queensland and the Coral Sea Islands Territory.

The territory is a possession of Australia, administered from Canberra by the Attorney-General's Department[2] (before November 29, 2007[3] administration was carried out by the Department of Transport and Regional Services). Defence 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 (370 km) exclusive fishing zone. There is no economic activity, and only a staff of three or four people to run the meteorological station on Willis Island (South Islet), established in 1921.

Geography Location: Oceania, islands in the Coral Sea, northeast of Australia
Geographic coordinates: 18 00 S, 152 00 E
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: less than 3 sq km
land: less than 3 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes numerous small islands and reefs scattered over a sea area of about 780,000 sq km, with the Willis Islets the most important
Area - comparative: NA
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 3,095 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 3 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical
Terrain: sand and coral reefs and islands (or cays)
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Cato Island 6 m
Natural resources: NEGL
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (mostly grass or scrub cover) (2005)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: occasional tropical cyclones
Environment - current issues: no permanent fresh water resources
Geography - note: important nesting area for birds and turtles
Man-made objects

Automatic, unmanned weather stations are located on following reefs or atolls:
Bougainville Reef
Cato Island
Flinders Reef (Flinders Coral Cay)
Frederick Reef
Holmes Reef
Lihou Reef (Turtle Islet)
Marion Reef
Moore Reef

Lighthouses are located on following reefs or islands:
Bougainville Reef
East Diamond Islet
Frederick Reefs
Lihou Reef
Saumarez Reef

People Population: no indigenous inhabitants
note: there is a staff of three to four at the meteorological station on Willis Island (July 2007 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Coral Sea Islands Territory
conventional short form: Coral Sea Islands
Dependency status: territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Australian Attorney-General's Department
Legal system: the laws of Australia, where applicable, apply
Executive branch: administered from Canberra by the Australian Attorney-General's Department
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (territory of Australia)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (territory of Australia)
Flag description: the flag of Australia is used
Economy Economy - overview: no economic activity
Communications Communications - note: there are automatic weather stations on many of the isles and reefs relaying data to the mainland
Transportation Ports and terminals: none; offshore anchorage only
Military Military - note: defense is the responsibility of Australia; visited regularly by the Royal Australian Navy; Australia has control over the activities of visitors
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none