Ashmore and Cartier Islands


Australia-Oceania :: Ashmore and Cartier Islands (territory of Australia)

These uninhabited islands came under Australian authority in 1931; formal administration began two years later. Ashmore Reef supports a rich and diverse avian and marine habitat; in 1983, it became a National Nature Reserve. Cartier Island, a former bombing range, became a marine reserve in 2000.


Southeastern Asia, islands in the Indian Ocean, midway between northwestern Australia and Timor island

Geographic coordinates:
12 14 S, 123 05 E

Map references:

Total: 5 sq km
Country comparison to the world: 247
Land: 5 sq km
Water: 0 sq km
note: includes Ashmore Reef (West, Middle, and East Islets) and Cartier Island

Area - comparative:
about eight times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC

Land boundaries:
0 km

74.1 km

Maritime claims:
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 12 nm
Exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation


low with sand and coral

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
Highest point: unnamed location 3 m

Natural resources:

Land use:
Arable land: 0%
Permanent crops: 0%
Other: 100% (all grass and sand) (2011)

Natural hazards:
surrounded by shoals and reefs that can pose maritime hazards

Environment - current issues:
illegal killing of protected wildlife by traditional Indonesian fisherman, as well as fishing by non-traditional Indonesian vessels, are ongoing problems

Geography - note:
Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve established in August 1983; Cartier Island Marine Reserve established in 2000

People and Society

no indigenous inhabitants
note: Indonesian fishermen are allowed access to the lagoon and fresh water at Ashmore Reef's West Island; access to East and Middle Islands is by permit only


Country name:
Conventional long form: Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands
Conventional short form: Ashmore and Cartier Islands

Dependency status:
territory of Australia; administered from Canberra by the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport

Legal system:
the laws of the Commonwealth of Australia and the laws of the Northern Territory of Australia, where applicable, apply

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (territory of Australia)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (territory of Australia)


Economy - overview:
no economic activity


Ports and terminals:
none; offshore anchorage only


Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Australia; periodic visits by the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international:
Australia has closed parts of the Ashmore and Cartier reserve to Indonesian traditional fishing; Indonesian groups challenge Australia's claim to Ashmore Reef

Flag of Ashmore and Cartier Islands

Flag description:
the flag of Australia is used


"Ashmore and Cartier Islands." World Factbook, Relief Central, Accessed 19 April 2019.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands. World Factbook. Accessed April 19, 2019.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands. In World Factbook. Available from
Ashmore and Cartier Islands [Internet]. In: World Factbook. [cited 2019 April 19]. Available from:
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Ashmore and Cartier Islands ID - 563015 BT - The World Factbook 2014 UR - DB - Relief Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -