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The rise of the British empire - India
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Extract from a letter written by a British official in 1785 about the island of Diego Garcia
(Catalogue ref: FO 148/6 no.1)
  • This source is one of a series of letters sent from the government to the British officials in Bombay in the years 1785-86.
  • The letters concerned the Island of Diego Garcia. This uninhabited island lies in the Indian Ocean. It was an extremely valuable place for ships to stop and restock the food supplies for their crews.
  • There was a long list of instructions along with these letters, which explained that the British government did not believe that any other European state had settled the island. This turned out to be the case and by 1786 the British had a settlement and a well-armed force on the island.
  • Diego Garcia is still a British military base today and was used by American forces in the recent war in Afghanistan.
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