The flag of the British Indian Ocean Territory consists of the British Union Jack in the upper left hand corner of the flag. The rest of the flag is made up of interchanging white and blue wavy lines. Slightly right of center is a palm tree with a crown halfway down its trunk. The Union Jack is a symbol of a colony or dependent of Britain, while the palm tree and crown symbolize the Indian Ocean Territory. The meaning of the wavy lines is largely unknown and departs from the usual blue background of British colonies. However, it does bear similarity to the flag of British Columbia, which consists partially of blue and white wavy lines on the bottom half of the flag.
Because the British Indian Ocean Territory is of a military nature, civilians cannot actually visit it. Therefore, it is largely unknown if the flag as it is described is used on the islands. The only settlements on the British Indian Ocean Territory are joint British and American naval and air bases. The flag has been observed flying at the settlement of Diego Garcia on the island as well as the American flag. The flag is for use on land only and is essentially the commissioner of the territory’s flag. Using it keeps up the pretense that the territory is still British and not just an American base.
It is thought that the flag has origins in a local creation that was then adopted by the British and made official with the presence of the Union Jack. The reason for this is that it differs widely from the usual flags flown by British colonies. The flag British Indian Ocean Territory flag was officially adopted in 1990.
The British Indian Ocean Territory is located in the middle of the Indian Ocean and part of the Chagos Islands. It was formed November 8, 1965 and included islands that were formerly part of the Seychelles. These islands are Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches along with the Chagos Archipelago, which was formerly called Mauritius. The former Seychelles islands were returned in 1976. Britain officially leased Diego Garcia to the United States in 1971 in return for discounted Polaris nuclear missiles.