Ashmore and Cartier Islands

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The Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands are two groups of small low-lying uninhabited tropical islands in the Indian Ocean situated on the edge of the continental shelf north-west of Australia and south of the Indonesian island of Rote.



The territory includes Ashmore Reef (West, Middle, and East Islets) and Cartier Island (70 km east) with, a total area of 199.45 km2 (77 sq mi) within the reefs and including the lagoons, and 114,400 m² of dry land. While they have a total of 74.1 km (46 mi) of shoreline, measured along the outer edge of the reef, there are no ports or harbors, only offshore anchorage.

Nearby Hibernia Reef, 42 km (26 mi) Northeast of Ashmore Reef, is not part of the territory, but belongs to Western Australia.[1] It has no permanently dry land area, although large parts of the reef become exposed during low tide.

Cartier Island Marine Reserve includes the entire sand cay of Cartier Island, the reef surrounding it, the ocean for a 7.2 km (4 mi) radius around the island, and 1,000 m (3,300 ft) below the seafloor. It was proclaimed in 2000.

  • Ashmore Reef 155.40 km2 (60 sq mi) area within reef (including lagoon)
    • West Islet, 51,200 m² land area;
    • Middle Islet, 21,200 m² land area;
    • East Islet, 25,000 m² land area;
  • Cartier Reef (44.03 km² area within reef (including lagoon)
    • Cartier Island, 17,000 m² land area;

There is an automatic weather station on West Islet.


The territory is administered from Canberra by the Attorney-General's Department[2] (before 29 November 2007[3] administration was carried out by the Department of Transport and Regional Services). The FIPS-10 date code is AT; the territory is bundled along with Australia in ISO 3166. Defence is the responsibility of Australia, with periodic visits by the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air Force and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The islands are visited by seasonal caretakers.

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