|Motto: "Desire the Right"|
|Anthem: "God Save the Queen" (official)
"Song of the Falklands"[a]
Location of the Falkland Islands
and largest city
|Status||British Overseas Territory|
|Government||Parliamentary dependency under a constitutional monarchy|
|-||Chief Executive||Keith Padgett|
|-||UK minster responsible||Hugo Swire MP|
|-||British rule reasserted||1833|
|-||British Dependent Territory||1981[b]|
|-||British Overseas Territory||2002|
|-||Total||12,200 km2 (162nd)
4,700 sq mi
|-||2012 estimate||2,932 (220th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2007 estimate|
|-||Total||$164.5 million (222nd)|
|-||Per capita||$55,400 (9th)|
medium · 64th
very high · 20th
|Currency||Falklands pound[c] (
|Time zone||FKST[d] (UTC−3)|
|Drives on the||left|
|ISO 3166 code||FK|
|a.||^ "Song of the Falklands" is used as the islands' anthem at sporting events.|
|b.||^ Interrupted by Argentine military government in 1982.|
|c.||^ Fixed to the pound sterling (GBP).|
|d.||^ The Falklands has been on FKST year-round since September 2010.|
The Falkland Islands (//; Spanish: Islas Malvinas) are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about 300 miles (500 km) east of the southern Patagonian coast, at a latitude of about 52°S. The archipelago, with an area of 4,700 square miles (12,200 km²), comprises East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 smaller islands. As a British overseas territory the Falklands enjoy internal self-governance, with the United Kingdom taking responsibility for their defence and foreign affairs. The islands' capital is Stanley, on East Falkland.
Controversy exists over the Falklands' discovery and subsequent colonisation by Europeans. At various times, the islands have had French, British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements. Britain reasserted its rule in 1833, although Argentina maintained its claim to the islands. In 1982, after Argentina's invasion of the islands, the two-month undeclared Falklands War resulted in the surrender of Argentine forces and the return of the islands to British administration.
The population (an estimated 2,932 in 2012) primarily consists of native Falkland Islanders, the majority of British descent. Other ethnicities include French, Gibraltarian and Scandinavian. Immigration from the United Kingdom, Saint Helena and Chile has reversed a population decline. The predominant (and official) language is English. Under the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983, Falkland Islanders are legally British citizens.
The islands lie on the boundary of the subarctic and temperate maritime climate zones, with both major islands having mountain ranges reaching 2,300 feet (700 m). They are home to large bird populations, although many no longer breed on the main islands because of competition from introduced species. Major economic activities include fishing, tourism and sheep farming, with an emphasis on high-quality wool exports. Oil exploration, licensed by the Falkland Islands Government, remains controversial as a result of maritime disputes with Argentina.
The Falkland Islands take their name from the Falkland Sound, a strait separating the archipelago's two main islands. The name "Falkland" was applied to the channel by John Strong, captain of an English expedition, which landed on the islands in 1690. Strong named the strait in honour of Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount of Falkland, the Treasurer of the Navy who sponsored their journey. The Viscount's title originates from the town of Falkland, Scotland, whose name comes from "folkland" (land held by folk-right). The name would not be applied to the islands until 1765, when British captain John Byron claimed them for King George III as "Falkland's Islands".
The Spanish name for the archipelago, Islas Malvinas, derives from the French Îles Malouines—the name given the islands by French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville in 1764. Bougainville, who founded the islands' first settlement, named the area after the port of Saint-Malo (the point of departure for his ships and colonists). The port, located in the Brittany region of western France, was in turn named after St. Malo (or Maclou), the Christian evangelist who founded the city.
Although Fuegians from Patagonia may have visited the Falkland Islands in prehistoric times, the islands were uninhabited at the time of their discovery by Europeans. Claims of discovery date back to the 16th century, but there is no consensus on whether these early European explorers discovered the Falklands or other islands in the South Atlantic.[A] The first recorded landing on the Falklands is attributed to English captain John Strong, who discovered the Falkland Sound and "noted the water and game on the islands" on a voyage to Peru's and Chile's littoral in 1690.
The Falklands remained uninhabited until the 1764 establishment of Port Louis on East Falkland by French captain Louis Antoine de Bougainville and the 1766 foundation of Port Egmont on Saunders Island by British captain John MacBride.[B] The settlements' mutual awareness is a subject of debate. In 1766 France surrendered its claim on the Falklands to Spain, which renamed the French colony Puerto Soledad the following year. Problems began when Spain discovered Port Egmont; an imminent war, caused by Spain's capture of the port in 1770, was avoided by its restitution to Britain in 1771. Britain evacuated the Falklands in 1774; Spain followed suit in 1811, except for gauchos and fishermen who remained voluntarily.[C]
The archipelago's status was again undisputed until 1820, when Colonel David Jewett (an American privateer working for the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata) informed anchored ships about Buenos Aires' 1816 claim to Spain's territories in the South Atlantic.[D] The islands had no permanent inhabitants until 1826, when German-born merchant Luis Vernet settled at the ruins of Puerto Soledad. Over the next two years Vernet accumulated resources on the islands and, in 1828, felt the venture secure enough to bring settlers and form a permanent colony.[E] Vernet's venture lasted until a dispute over fishing and hunting rights led to a raid by the USS Lexington in 1831,[F] when the ship's commander "declared the island government at an end".
Buenos Aires attempted to reassert its influence over the settlement by forming a garrison, but an 1832 mutiny was followed the next year by the arrival of British forces who reasserted Britain's rule. The Argentine Confederation (headed by Buenos Aires governor Juan Manuel de Rosas) protested Britain's reacquisition of the Falklands,[G] and Argentine governments since then have "continued to regularly register official protests against [Britain]".[H] The British troops departed, leaving the area "a kind of no man's land" and returning several months later to find the port in turmoil.[I] In 1840 the Falklands became a Crown colony, and "a governor and a few Scotsmen arrived to establish a British pastoral settlement". By 1844 nearly everyone had relocated to Port Stanley, considered a better location for the islands' government.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Falklands played a prominent role during the two world wars as a military base aiding control of the South Atlantic. A World War I naval encounter, the December 1914 Battle of the Falkland Islands, resulted in a British victory over imperial Germany. During World War II another naval encounter near the archipelago, the December 1939 Battle of the River Plate, resulted in the Royal Navy's victory over the Kriegsmarine.
Sovereignty of the Falklands again became an important issue during the second half of the century, when Argentine president Juan Perón "asserted Argentine sovereignty" over the archipelago; this increased simmering tensions. The sovereignty dispute again intensified during the 1960s, shortly after the United Nations passed a resolution on decolonization which Argentina interpreted as favourable to its position. However, negotiations between the United Kingdom and Argentina reached no meaningful conclusion. In April 1982 the disagreement became an armed conflict when Argentina invaded the Falklands and other British territories in the South Atlantic, briefly occupying them until a UK expeditionary force retook the territories in June.
After the war the United Kingdom expanded its military presence on the islands, building RAF Mount Pleasant and increasing the size of its garrison, and the UK and Argentina "normalised" diplomatic relations in 1990. In 1998 Argentine president Carlos Menem, in a letter to Falklanders, "called for reconciliation 'to heal old wounds'". However, relations again deteriorated because of air-travel disagreements and the UK's refusal to resume sovereignty negotiations "in the absence of evidence that the islanders themselves sought a change".[J] Disputes between the governments have led "some analysts [to] predict a growing conflict of interest between Argentina and Great Britain ... because of the recent expansion of the fishing industry in the waters surrounding the Falklands".
The Falkland Islands are a self-governing British Overseas Territory. Under the 2009 Constitution, the islands have full internal self-government; the UK is responsible for foreign affairs, retaining the power "to protect UK interests and to ensure the overall good governance of the territory". The Monarch of the United Kingdom is the head of state, and executive authority is exercised on the monarch's behalf by the Governor. The islands' Chief Executive, appointed by the Governor, is head of government. The islands' current Governor, Nigel Haywood, was appointed in October 2010 and current Chief Executive Keith Padgett was appointed in March 2012.
The Governor acts on the advice of the islands' Executive Council, composed of the Chief Executive, the Director of Finance and three elected members of the Legislative Assembly (with the Governor as chairman). The Legislative Assembly, a unicameral legislature, consists of the Chief Executive, the Director of Finance and eight members (five from Stanley and three from Camp) elected to four-year terms by universal suffrage. All politicians in the Falkland Islands are independent; no political parties exist on the islands.
The islands' judicial system, overseen by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is largely based on English law and the constitution binds the territory to the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights. Residents have the right of appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and the Privy Council. Law enforcement is the responsibility of the Royal Falkland Islands Police (RFIP), and military defence of the islands is provided by the United Kingdom. A British military garrison is stationed on the islands, and the Falkland Islands government funds an additional company-sized light infantry Falkland Islands Defence Force.
The United Kingdom and Argentina claim control over the Falkland Islands and its dependencies. The UK bases its position on its continuous administration of the islands since 1833 (except for 1982) and the islanders' "right to self determination, including their right to remain British if that is their wish". Argentina posits that it acquired the Falklands from Spain when it achieved independence in 1816, and the UK illegally occupied them in 1833.
The present dispute began shortly after the 1960 passage of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 on decolonization, when Argentina reasserted its sovereignty claims to the UN special committee for non-self-governing territories. In 1965 the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 2065, calling for bilateral negotiations to reach a peaceful settlement of the dispute. Later that decade the UK sought to improve relations with South America by secretly discussing with Argentina the transfer of the Falklands, with provisions protecting the Falklanders' way of life. When this became public, the Falklanders protested the plans. As a result, the UK increased its focus on the Falklanders' self-determination; Argentina disagreed, and negotiations remained at a stalemate. Subsequent talks between the nations were held until 1981, but did not reach a conclusion on sovereignty.
Diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina, severed at the outbreak of the Falklands War in 1982, were re-established in 1990. In 1994 Argentina promulgated a new constitution claiming the Falkland Islands, reasserting its claim in 2007. In 2009, British prime minister Gordon Brown met with Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and said that there would be no talks over the future sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. The UK's position is that the Falklanders have not indicated a desire for change, and there are no pending issues to resolve concerning the islands.
Falkland Islanders continue to reject Argentina's sovereignty claim. In 2010, Falklands correspondent Tom Leonard of The Daily Telegraph wrote: "The 3,000-strong community is already proudly British ... The younger islanders may not share the older generation's memories but there is clearly no love lost with the Argentines among them". In March 2013 the Falkland Islands held a referendum on its political status, and 99.8 percent of voters favoured remaining under British rule.
Argentine policy maintains that Falkland Islanders do not have a right to self-determination, claiming that in 1833 the UK expelled Argentine authorities (and settlers) from the Falklands with a threat of "greater force" and afterwards barred Argentines from resettling the islands. Argentina reiterated its position after a 2012 meeting of the UN Decolonization Committee, when its representatives refused to accept a letter from the Falkland Islands offering to open direct talks between both governments. In 2013, Argentina dismissed the Falkland Islands' sovereignty referendum. It does not recognize the Falkland Islands as a partner in negotiations, and considers the islands (along with South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) part of the Islas del Atlántico Sur department of Tierra del Fuego province.
The Falkland Islands have a land area of 4,700 square miles (12,200 km²) and a coastline estimated at 800 miles (1300 km). Two main islands, West Falkland and East Falkland, and about 776 smaller islands constitute the archipelago. The Falklands are continental crust fragments resulting from the break-up of Gondwana and the opening of the South Atlantic that began 130 million years ago. The islands are located in the South Atlantic Ocean, on the Patagonian Shelf, about 300 miles (500 km) east of Patagonia in southern Argentina.
The Falklands lie approximately at latitude 51°40′ - 53°00′ S and longitude 57°40′ - 62°00′ W. The archipelago's two main islands are separated by the Falkland Sound, and its deep coastal indentations form natural harbours. East Falkland houses Stanley (the capital and largest city), the UK military base at RAF Mount Pleasant and the archipelago's highest point: Mount Usborne, at 2,313 feet (705 m).
The islands are predominantly mountainous and hilly, with the major exception the depressed plains of Lafonia (a peninsula forming the southern part of East Falkland). The climate of the islands is cold, windy and humid maritime. Rainfall is common over half of the year, averaging 610 millimetres (24 in) in Stanley, and sporadic light snowfall occurs nearly all year. Strong westerly winds and cloudy skies are common.
The Falkland Islands are a biogeographical part of the mild Antarctic zone, with strong connections to the flora and fauna of Patagonia in mainland South America. Land birds make up most of the Falklands' avifauna; 63 species breed on the islands, including 16 endemic species. There is also abundant arthropod diversity on the islands. The Falklands' flora consists of 163 native vascular species. The islands' only native mammal, the warrah (or Falkland Islands fox), was hunted to extinction by European settlers.
The islands are frequented by marine mammals, such as the southern elephant seal and the South American fur seal; offshore islands house the rare striated caracara. Endemic fish around the islands are primarily from the genus Galaxias. The Falklands are treeless and have a wind-resistant vegetation predominantly composed of a variety of dwarf shrubs.
Virtually the entire area of the islands is used as pasture for sheep. Introduced species include reindeer, hares, rabbits, Patagonian foxes, pigs, horses, brown rats and cats. The detrimental impact several of these species have caused to native flora and fauna has led authorities to contain, remove or exterminate invasive species such as foxes, rabbits and rats. Endemic land animals have been the most affected by introduced species. The extent of human impact on the Falklands is unclear, since there is little long-term data on habitat change.
The economy of the Falkland Islands is ranked the 222nd largest in the world by GDP (PPP), and ranks 9th worldwide by GDP (PPP) per capita. The unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in 2010, and inflation was last calculated at 1.2 percent rate in 2003. Based on 2010 data, the islands have a high Human Development Index of 0.874 and a moderate Gini coefficient for income inequality of 34.17.
Economic development was advanced by ship resupplying and sheep farming for high-quality wool. During the 1980s, although synthetic fibers and ranch underinvestment hurt the sheep-farming sector the government established a major revenue stream with the establishment of an exclusive economic zone and the sale of fishing licenses to "anybody wishing to fish within this zone". Since the end of the Falklands War in 1982, the islands' economic activity has increasingly focused on oil field exploration and tourism.
The port city of Stanley has regained the islands' economic focus, with an increase in population as workers migrate from Camp. Fear of dependence on fishing licenses and threats from overfishing, illegal fishing and fish market price fluctuations have increased interest on oil drilling as an alternative source of revenue; exploration efforts have yet to find "exploitable reserves".
Agriculture (primarily sheep farming and fishing) accounts for 95 percent of the Falkland Islands' gross domestic product, with industry and services making up the other five percent. Development projects in education and sports have been funded by the Falklands government, without aid from the United Kingdom. The islands' major exports include wool, hides, venison, fish and squid; its main imports include fuel, building materials and clothing.
The Falkland Islands are a homogeneous society, with the majority of its inhabitants descended from Scottish and Welsh immigrants who settled the territory in 1833.[K] The island's population decline has steadied, thanks to immigrants from the United Kingdom, Saint Helena and Chile. The legal term for the right of residence is "belonging to the islands". The British Nationality Act of 1983 gave Falkland Islanders British citizenship.
In the 2012 census a majority of residents listed their nationality as Falkland Islander (59 percent), followed by British (29 percent), Saint Helenian (9.8 percent) and Chilean (5.4 percent). A small number of Argentines also live on the islands.[L] The 2006 census listed some Falklands residents as descendants of French, Gibraltarians and Scandinavians. That census indicated that one-third of residents were born on the archipelago, with foreign-born residents assimilated into local culture.
The Falkland Islands are the least-populated territory in South America. According to the 2012 census the average daily population of the Falklands was 2,932, excluding British Ministry of Defence personnel and families based at RAF Mount Pleasant.[M] Stanley (with a population of 2,121) is the most-populous location on the archipelago, followed by Mount Pleasant (369 residents, primarily air-base contractors) and Camp (351 residents). The islands' age distribution is skewed towards working age (20–60). Males outnumber females (53 to 47 percent), and this discrepancy is most prominent in the 20–60 age group. In the 2006 census most islanders identified themselves as Christian (67.2 percent), followed by those who refused to answer or had no religious affiliation (31.5 percent). The remaining 1.3 percent (39 people) were adherents of other faiths.
Education in the Falkland Islands, which follows England's system, is free and compulsory. Primary education is available at Stanley, RAF Mount Pleasant (for children of service personnel) and a number of rural settlements. Secondary education is only available in Stanley, which offers boarding facilities and 12 subjects to General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) level. Students aged 16 or older may study at colleges in England for their GCE Advanced Level or vocational qualifications. The Falkland Islands government pays for older students to attend institutions of higher education, usually in the United Kingdom.
Falklands culture is "based on the British culture brought with the settlers from the British Isles", although it has been influenced by the cultures of Hispanic South America. Some terms and place names used by the islands' former Gaucho inhabitants are still applied in local speech. The Falklands' predominant and official language is English, with the foremost dialect being British English; nonetheless, inhabitants also speak Spanish and other languages. According to naturalist Will Wagstaff, "the Falkland Islands are a very social place, and stopping for a chat is a way of life".
The islands have two weekly newspapers: Teaberry Express and The Penguin News, and television and radio broadcasts generally feature programming from the United Kingdom. Wagstaff describes local cuisine as "very British in character with much use made of the homegrown vegetables, local lamb, mutton, beef, and fish". Common between meals are "home made cakes and biscuits with tea or coffee". Social activities are, according to Wagstaff, "typical of that of a small British town with a variety of clubs and organisations covering many aspects of community life".
- Based on his analysis of Falkland Islands discovery claims, historian John Dunmore concludes that "[a] number of countries could therefore lay some claim to the archipelago under the heading of first discoverers: Spain, Holland, Britain, and even Italy and Portugal – although the last two claimants might be stretching things a little."
- In 1764, Bougainville claimed the islands in the name of Louis XV of France. In 1765, British captain John Byron claimed the islands in the name of George III of Great Britain.
- Britain left a plaque, claiming the Falklands for George III. From 1774 to 1811, Spain's Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was the only formal governmental presence in the territory.
- According to Argentine legal analyst Roberto Laver, the United Kingdom disregards Jewett's actions because the government he represented "was not recognized either by Britain or any other foreign power at the time" and "no act of occupation followed the ceremony of claiming possession".
- Vernet's venture was encouraged by Buenos Aires, which named him military and civil commander of the islands in 1829. Before leaving for the Falklands Vernet stamped his grant at the British Consulate, repeating this when Buenos Aires extended his grant in 1828. The cordial relationship between the consulate and Vernet led him to express "the wish that, in the event of the British returning to the islands, HMG would take his settlement under their protection".
- The log of the Lexington only reports the destruction of arms and a powder store, but Vernet made a claim for compensation from the US Government stating that the entire settlement was destroyed.
- As discussed by Roberto Laver, not only did Rosas not break relations with Britain because of the "essential" nature of "British economic support", but he offered the Falklands "as a bargaining chip ... in exchange for the cancellation of Argentina's million-pound debt with the British bank of Baring Brothers". In 1850 Rosas' government ratified the Arana–Southern Treaty, which put "an end to the existing differences, and of restoring perfect relations of friendship" between the United Kingdom and Argentina.
- Argentina protested in 1841, 1849, 1884, 1888, 1908, 1927 and 1933, and has made annual protests to the United Nations since 1946.
- Vernet's deputy, Scotsman Matthew Brisbane, returned to the islands "in the hope of restarting the business". His venture ended after unrest at Port Louis caused a group of "malcontents", led by Antonio Rivero, to murder Brisbane (and others) and loot the port. Survivors "fled to a cave on a near island".
- In 1999, when Chile protested General Augusto Pinochet's detention in London by temporarily halting flights to the Falklands, "the only such contact between the islands and South America", Argentina and the UK reached an agreement to allow air travel between Argentina and the Falklands. In 2004, after Argentina "granted its flagship airline two routes between Buenos Aires and Stanley", the Falkland Islanders "rejected the prospect of regularly scheduled flights from Argentina" and the Argentine government forbade Chilean aircraft from flying through Argentine airspace to reach the Falklands.
- Roberto Laver argues this is likely the result of government policies which successfully reduced the number of non-British populations that at one point also inhabited the archipelago. Laver states that "naturalization ordinances" in the first decades of the British colony "show a wide variety of settlers from places in Europe, Northern, and Central America, and a couple from Argentina".
- In the 2013 Falkland Islands sovereignty referendum, "18 Argentines [were] on the electoral register".
- At the time of the 2012 census, 91 Falklands residents were overseas.
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- Wikimedia Atlas of Falkland Islands
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- Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) entry at The World Factbook
- Falkland Islands at DMOZ
- Falkland Islands Government (official site).
- The Falkland Islands Tourist Board
- Falkland Islands Tourism
- Falkland Islands Development Corporation (official site).
- Falkland Islands News Network (official site).
- Falkland Islands Information Portal
- Falkland Islands Profile (BBC)
- "Historical Dates". The Falkland Islands Government. Retrieved 17 March 2011.