There are 27 coral islands in the group. Captain William KEELING
discovered the islands in 1609, but they remained uninhabited until the
19th century. From the 1820s to 1978, members of the CLUNIE-ROSS family
controlled the islands and the copra produced from local coconuts.
Annexed by the UK in 1857, the Cocos Islands were transferred to the
Australian Government in 1955. The population on the two inhabited
islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island
and the ethnic Malays on Home Island. Its languages are: Malay (Cocos
dialect) and English.