Located more than 2,000 miles east of the African continent and over 1,000 miles from the southern coast of India, Diego Garcia is the biggest island in the Chagos Archipelago. And with its picture-postcard beaches and sparkling blue waters, it would not look out of place in any high-class tourist brochure.
However, unlike places such as the Maldives – located some 730 miles north along the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge – Diego Garcia has never welcomed seaplanes full of honeymooners to enjoy its tropical charms. Only a select few have gotten to experience the destination’s beauty, in fact. And even today, the island’s dark history casts a shadow across its groves and bays.
According to records, Diego Garcia was first stumbled upon by Europeans back in 1512, when the Portuguese explorer Pedro Mascarenhas arrived in the Chagos Islands. Before this, it’s believed that the atoll had occasionally hosted lost sailors from other shores. But it’s not thought that it had yet supported a native population of its own.