The Chagos Archipelago, sometimes known as the Chagos Islands, is a group of seven atolls in the Indian Ocean, roughly 500 kilometers south of the Maldives archipelago. The Chagos-Laccadive Ridge is a substantial undersea mountain range in the Indian Ocean, and this group of islands makes up its southernmost archipelago. Except for a few relatively small exceptions, all are low-lying atolls centered around lagoons. The Chagos Islands had been home to the native Chagossians, a Bourbonnais Creole-speaking people, until the United Kingdom evacuated them between 1967 and 1973 at the request of the US to allow the US to create a military facility on Diego Garcia. Since 1971, only the atoll of Diego Garcia has been inhabited, and only by US military forces, including American civilian contractual people.