|Motto: "Desire the Right"|
|Anthem: "God Save the Queen" (official)
"Song of the Falklands"[a]
Location of the Falkland Islands
and largest city
|Government||British Overseas Territory[b]|
|-||Chief Executive||Keith Padgett|
|-||Responsible Minister (UK)||Hugo Swire MP|
|-||British rule reasserted||1833|
|-||British Dependent Territory||1981[c]|
|-||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||Falkland Islands pound[d] (
|Time zone||FKST[e] (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.||^ Parliamentary democratic dependency under constitutional monarchy.|
|c.||^ Interrupted by Argentine military government in 1982.|
|d.||^ Fixed to the Pound sterling (GBP).|
|e.||^ The Falklands has been on FKST year-round since September 2010.|
The Falkland Islands (//; Spanish: Islas Malvinas) are an archipelago located 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, which has 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 its defence and foreign affairs. The islands' capital is Stanley on East Falkland.
Controversy exists over the Falklands' original 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, though Argentina maintained its claim to the islands. In 1982, following Argentina's invasion of the islands, the two-month undeclared Falklands War between both countries resulted in the surrender of Argentine forces and the return of the islands to British administration.
The population, estimated at 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 to 2,300 feet (700 m). The islands are home to large bird populations, although many no longer breed on the main islands because of the effects of 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 that separates the archipelago's two main islands. The name "Falkland" was applied to the channel by John Strong, the captain of an English expedition that landed on the islands in 1690. Strong named the strait in honor of Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount of Falkland, the Treasurer of the Navy who had sponsored the long journey. The Viscount's title originates from the town of Falkland, Scotland, whose name comes from the term "folkland" (meaning land held by folkright). 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, is drawn from the French Îles Malouines, the name given to 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.
Philologist Félix Rodríguez González argues that, in the English language, the Spanish name functions "as a semiotic sign" with a prejudicial meaning. He bases his conclusion on "the general rejection of the [Spanish] name" by media in the United States and Britain during the Falklands War, adding that British newspaper The Guardian "[defied] national pride" when it "dared to call the islands Malvinas". The United Nations uses both the Spanish and English names; its official designation for the territory is "Falkland Islands (Malvinas)".
Even though Fuegians from Patagonia possibly visited the Falkland Islands in prehistoric times, the islands were uninhabited at the time of European discovery. Controversial claims of discovery date back to the 16th century, but there exists no consensus on whether these early European explorers truly discovered the Falklands or other islands in the South Atlantic.[A] Regardless, the first recorded landing on the Falklands is attributed to English captain John Strong, who, while on a voyage "to the coast of Chile and Peru" in 1690, discovered the Falkland Sound and "noted the water and game on the islands".
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' level of mutual awareness has thereon been a subject of continuous debate. In 1766, France gave its claim over the Falklands to Spain, which renamed the French colony Puerto Soledad the following year. Problems began when Spain discovered Port Egmont; a seemingly imminent war, caused by Spain's capture of the port in 1770, was avoided by its restitution to Britain in 1771. A few years later, Britain evacuated the Falklands in 1774 and Spain followed suit in 1811, with the exception of some gauchos and fishermen who remained of their own accord.[C]
The status of the archipelago went unchecked 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 of possession over Spain's territories in the South Atlantic.[D] The islands remained without permanent inhabitants until 1826, when German-born merchant Luis Vernet established a base at the ruins of Puerto Soledad. Over the next two years, Vernet built up resources in 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] at which point the ship's commander "declared the island government at an end".
Buenos Aires attempted to reorganize its authority over the settlement by forming a garrison, but a mutiny of troops in 1832 was inadvertently 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] Regardless, the British troops soon departed, leaving the area "a kind of no man's land" and returning months later to find the port ravaged by murder and looting.[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, deemed an improved location for governance of the islands.
In the first half of the 20th century, the Falklands served a prominent role during the two world wars as a military base for 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. In 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 in the second half of the 20th century, when Argentine president Juan Perón "asserted Argentine sovereignty" over the archipelago, causing a rise in tensions. The sovereignty dispute again intensified in the 1960s, shortly after the United Nations passed a resolution on decolonization that Argentina identified as favorable to its position. Negotiations between the United Kingdom and Argentina did not reach any 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 of the same year.
After the war, the United Kingdom expanded its military presence on the islands, constructing RAF Mount Pleasant and increasing the garrison's size. The UK and Argentina "normalized" diplomatic relations in 1990. In 1998, Argentine president Carlos Menem, in a letter to Falklanders, "called for reconciliation 'to heal old wounds'". Nevertheless, relations thereafter 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] Ongoing disputes among the involved 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, whereas the UK government is responsible for foreign affairs and retains 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, but executive authority is exercised on the monarch's behalf by the Governor of the Falkland Islands. The islands' Chief Executive, appointed by the Governor, is the head of government. The islands' current Governor, Nigel Haywood, was appointed on October 2010; the current Chief Executive, Keith Padgett, was appointed on March 2012.
The Governor acts on the advice of the islands' Executive Council, composed by the Chief Executive, the Director of Finance, three elected members of the Legislative Assembly, and 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 for four-year terms by universal suffrage. All politicians in the Falkland Islands are independents; no political parties exist in the islands.
The islands' judicial system, overseen by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is largely based on English statutory law. 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. Crime control and prisons are under the responsibility of the Royal Falkland Islands Police (RFIP). Military defence of the islands is provided by the United Kingdom. A British military garrison is stationed in the islands, and the Falkland Islands government funds an additional company-sized light infantry unit of defence.
The United Kingdom and Argentina claim control over the Falkland Islands and its dependencies. The UK bases its position on continuous administration of the islands since 1833 (apart from 1982) and the islanders having a "right to self determination, including their right to remain British if that is their wish". Argentina posits that it acquired the Falklands from Spain, upon achieving independence in 1816, and that the UK illegally occupied them in 1833.
The present dispute began shortly after the 1960 passage of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 on decolonization. Argentina then 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 to 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 to protect the Falklanders' way of life. When this became public, the Falklanders protested the plans. As a result, the UK increased focus on the Falklanders' self-determination; Argentina disagreed, and negotiations remained at a stalemate. Subsequent talks between the two nations took place until 1981, but did not reach a conclusion on sovereignty.
Diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina, which were severed at the outbreak of the Falklands War in 1982, were re-established in 1990. In 1994, Argentina promulgated a new constitution which claimed the Falkland Islands, and reasserted this claim in 2007. In 2009, British prime minister Gordon Brown met with Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and declared that there would be no talks over the future sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. The UK's position is that, since the Falklanders have not indicated a desire for change, there are no pending issues to resolve concerning the Falkland Islands.
Modern Falkland Islanders continue rejecting Argentina's sovereignty claim. In 2010, Falklands correspondent Tom Leonard of The Daily Telegraph, wrote that "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". On March 2013, the Falkland Islands held a referendum over its political status, and 99.8% of voters favoured remaining under British rule.
Contemporary Argentine policy maintains the position that modern Falkland Islanders do not have a right to self-determination. Argentina claims that, in 1833, the UK expelled Argentine authorities and settlers from the Falklands with a threat of "greater force" and that the UK afterwards barred Argentines from resettling the islands. Argentina reiterated its position in 2012, after a meeting of the UN Decolonization Committee, when its representatives refused to accept a letter from the Falkland Islands offering the opening of direct talks between both governments. Moreover, in 2013, Argentina dismissed the Falkland Islands' sovereignty referendum. Argentina does not recognize the Falkland Islands as a legitimate partner in negotiations, and considers the islands, along with South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, as 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 that resulted 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, and about 300 miles (500 km) east of Patagonia in southern Argentina.
The Falklands approximately lie 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 harbors. 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).
Land formations in the Falklands are predominantly mountainous and hilly, with the major exception being the depressed plains of Lafonia, a peninsula forming the southern part of East Falkland. The climate in the islands is usually cold, windy, and humid maritime. Rainfall is common over half the time in a year, averaging 610 millimetres (24 in) in Stanley, and a sporadic light snowfall occurs nearly all year. Also prevalent on the islands are strong westerly winds and cloudy skies.
Biogeographically, the Falkland Islands are classified as part of the mild Antarctic zone. Strong connections exist with 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. Arthropod diversity in the islands is also abundant. The Falklands' flora has 163 native vascular species. The islands' only endemic mammal, the warrah or Falkland Islands fox, was hunted to extinction by European settlers.
The Falkland 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. Fish endemic to the islands are mostly from the genus Galaxias. The Falklands, innately treeless, have a wind-resistant vegetation that, although varied, is predominantly composed 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 because there is little long-term data on habitat changes.
The economy of the Falkland Islands is classified as the 222nd largest in the world by GDP (PPP) and ranks 9th in the globe by GDP (PPP) per capita. The unemployment rate was 4.1% in 2010, and inflation was last calculated at a 1.2% rate in 2003. Based on 2010 data, the islands have a very high Human Development Index of 0.874 but a medium Gini coefficient for income inequality of 34.17.
Economic development was historically advanced by ship resupplying and sheep farming for high-quality wool. In the 1980s, while synthetic fibers and ranch underinvestment considerably hurt the sheep farming sector, the Falkland Islands government found a major source of profit through 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 increasingly focused on oil field exploration and tourism.
Recent years have seen the port city of Stanley regain the islands' economic focus along with an increase in population as workers migrate from Camp. Fear of dependence on the selling of 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. Nonetheless, exploration efforts have yet to find "exploitable reserves".
Agriculture, primarily in the form of sheep farming and fishing, accounts for 95% of the Falkland Islands' gross domestic product, followed by industry and services at 5%. Present 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 predominantly homogeneous society: the majority of its inhabitants descended from the Scottish and Welsh immigrants who settled the territory in 1833.[K] In recent times, the island's population decline has steadied thanks to immigrants from the United Kingdom, Saint Helena, and Chile. The legal term for having the right of residence is "belonging to the islands". The passage of the British Nationality Act of 1983 provided Falkland Islanders with British citizenship.
In the 2012 census, a majority of residents described their nationality as Falkland Islander (59%), followed by British (29%), Saint Helenian (9.8%), and Chilean (5.4%). A small number of Argentines also reside in the islands.[L] The 2006 census showed some Falklands residents identified as descendants of French, Gibraltarians, and Scandinavians. The same census indicated that only a third of residents were born on the archipelago, with some 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 populated location in the archipelago, followed by Mount Pleasant (369 residents, mostly air base contractors), and Camp (351 people). Age distribution in the islands is skewed towards people of working age (20–60). Males outnumber females (53 to 47%), and the deviation is most prominent in the 20–60 age group. In the 2006 census, most of the islanders identified themselves as being Christians (67.2%), followed by those who refused to answer or had no religious affiliation (31.5%). The remaining 1.3% (39 individuals) identified as 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 fundamentally "based on the British culture brought with the settlers from the British Isles", though it has been partly influenced by the cultures of Hispanic South America. Some terms and place names used by the islands' former Gaucho inhabitants are commonly used in local speech. The Falklands' predominant language is British English, and part of the population (2.5%) is Spanish-speaking. 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. 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". Moreover, social activities in the Falklands are, in the words of 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 the numerous 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 behind a plaque claiming the Falklands as property of George III. For subsequent years up to 1811, Spain's Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was the only formal government 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 received permission and encouragement from Buenos Aires, which proclaimed Vernet military and civil commander of the islands in 1829. Prior to departing for the Falklands, Vernet stamped his grant at the British Consulate, and would again repeat this action after Buenos Aires extended his grant in 1828. The positive relations between the consulate and Vernet even 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.
- Nevertheless, 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 even 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". Moreover, 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 again protested in 1841, 1849, 1884, 1888, 1908, 1927, and 1933. Argentina has made yearly protests to the United Nations since 1946.
- Vernet's deputy, the Scotsman Matthew Brisbane, returned to the islands "in the hope of restarting the business". His venture came to an abrupt end after unrest at Port Louis caused a group of "malcontents", led by Antonio Rivero, to murder Brisbane (and other residents) and loot the port. The 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 "agreed to permit air travel between Argentina and the islands". Nonetheless, 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". The Argentine government responded by forbidding Chilean airplanes from flying through Argentine airspace.
- 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
- Falkland Islands travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) entry at The World Factbook
- Falkland Islands on the Open Directory Project
- 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.