Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Desire the right"
Anthem: "God Save the Queen" (official)
"Song of the Falklands"[a]
(and largest city)
51°42′S 57°51′W / 51.7°S 57.85°W / -51.7; -57.85
Official language(s) English
Ethnic groups  61.3% Falkland Islander[b]
29.0% British
2.6% Spaniard
0.6% Japanese
6.5% Chilean & Other[1]
Demonym Falkland Islander
Government British Overseas Territory (constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democratic dependency)
 -  Queen Elizabeth II
 -  Governor Nigel Haywood[2]
 -  Chief Executive Tim Thorogood[3]
 -  British rule re-established 5 January 1833 
 -  Argentine invasion 2 April 1982 
 -  Liberation 14 June 1982 
 -  Current Constitution 1 January 2009 
 -  Total 12,173 km2 (162nd)
4,700 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0
 -  July 2008 estimate 3,140[4] (220th)
 -  Density 0.26/km2 (240th)
0.65/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 -  Total $75 million (223rd)
 -  Per capita $25,000 (2002 estimate) (not ranked)
HDI  n/a 
Currency Falkland Islands pound[c] (FKP)
Time zone (UTC-4)
 -  Summer (DST)  (UTC-3)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .fk
Calling code 500
a. ^ "Song of the Falklands" is used as the islands' anthem at sporting events.

b. ^ The majority are of British origin.

c. ^ Fixed to the Pound sterling (GBP).
Falkland Islands is located in Atlantic Ocean
Falkland Islands
Location of the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands (pronounced /ˈfɔːklənd/; Spanish: Islas Malvinas) are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about 250 nautical miles (290 mi; 460 km) from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland. It is an internally self-governing British Overseas Territory, with the United Kingdom responsible for defence and foreign affairs.

Ever since the re-establishment of British rule in 1833, Argentina has claimed sovereignty. In pursuit of this claim, which is rejected by the islanders, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982. This precipitated the two-month-long undeclared Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom and resulted in the defeat and withdrawal of the Argentine forces. It is currently on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Since the war, there has been strong economic growth in both fisheries and tourism.



The Falkland Islands took their English name from "Falkland Sound", the channel between the two main islands, which was in turn named after Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland by Captain John Strong, who landed on the islands in 1690.[5] The Spanish name, Islas Malvinas,[6] is derived from the French name,[7] Îles Malouines, named by Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1764 after the first known settlers, mariners and fishermen from the Breton port of Saint-Malo in France.[7] The ISO designation is Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and its ISO country code is FK.[8]

As a result of the continuing sovereignty dispute, the use of many Spanish names is considered offensive in the Falkland Islands, particularly those associated with the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands.[9] General Sir Jeremy Moore would not allow the use of Islas Malvinas in the surrender document, dismissing it as a propaganda term.[10]

History to 1982

There is controversy as to who was first to discover the Falkland Islands, with competing Portuguese, Spanish and British claims in the 16th century.[11] While it is possible that Patagonian Indians may have visited before this, the islands were uninhabited when they were discovered by Europeans.[12] The first reliable sighting is usually attributed to the Dutch explorer Sebald de Weert in 1600, who named the archipelago the Sebald Islands, a name they bore on Dutch maps into the 19th century.[13]

In 1690, Captain John Strong of the Welfare en route to Puerto Deseado was driven off course and reached the Falkland Islands instead, landing at Bold Cove. Sailing between the two principal islands he called the passage "Falkland Channel" (now Falkland Sound), after Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland, who as Commissioner of the Admiralty had financed the expedition. The island group takes its English name from this body of water.[14]

The French navigator and military commander Louis Antoine de Bougainville founded the first settlement on Berkeley Sound, in present-day Port Louis, East Falkland in 1764.[15] In 1765, the British captain John Byron explored and claimed Saunders Island on West Falkland, where he named the harbour Port Egmont[16] and a settlement was constructed in 1766. Unaware of the French presence he claimed the island group for King George III. Spain acquired the French colony and placed the colony under a governor subordinate to the Buenos Aires colonial administration. Spain attacked Port Egmont, expelling the British presence in 1770, this brought the two countries to the brink of war but war was avoided by a peace treaty and the British return to Port Egmont.[17]

In 1774, economic pressures leading up to the American Revolutionary War forced Great Britain to withdraw from many overseas settlements.[17][18] Upon withdrawal the British left behind a plaque asserting her continued claim. Spain maintained its governor until 1806 who, on his departure, left behind a plaque asserting Spanish claims. The remaining settlers were withdrawn by the United Provinces of the River Plate in 1811.[17]

In 1820, storm damage forced the privateer Heroína to take shelter in the islands.[19] Her captain David Jewett raised the flag of the United Provinces of the River Plate and read a proclamation claiming the islands.[19] This became public knowledge in Buenos Aires nearly a year later following the publication of the proclamation in the Salem Gazette.[19] After several abortive attempts, Luis Vernet established a settlement in 1828 after seeking authorisation from both British and Argentine authorities.[20]

A dispute over fishing and hunting rights resulted in a raid by the US warship USS Lexington in 1831.[20][21] The log of the Lexington reports only the destruction of arms and a powder store, though in his claim against the US Government for compensation (rejected by the US Government of President Cleveland in 1885) Vernet stated that the settlement was destroyed.[20] The Islands were declared free from all government, the seven senior members of the settlement were arrested for piracy[22] and taken to Montevideo,[21] where they were released without charge on the orders of Commodore Rogers.[23]

In November 1832, Argentina sent Commander Mestivier as an interim commander to found a penal settlement, but he was killed in a mutiny after 4 days.[24] The following January, British forces returned and requested the Argentine garrison leave. Don Pinedo, captain of the ARA Sarandi and senior officer present, protested but ultimately complied. Vernet's settlement continued, with the Irishman William Dickson tasked with raising the British flag for passing ships. Vernet's deputy, Matthew Brisbane, returned and was encouraged by the British to continue with the enterprise.[25][26][27] The settlement continued until August 1833, when the leaders were killed in the so-called Gaucho murders. Subsequently, from 1834 the islands were governed as a naval station until 1840 when the British Government decided to establish a permanent colony.[28]

Road sign to the capital

A new harbour was built in Stanley,[29] and the islands became a strategic point for navigation around Cape Horn. A World War I naval battle, the Battle of the Falkland Islands, took place in December 1914, with a British victory over the smaller Imperial German Asiatic Fleet.[30] During World War II, Stanley served as a Royal Navy station and serviced ships which took part in the 1939 Battle of the River Plate.[31]

Sovereignty over the islands became an issue in the second half of the 20th century, when Argentina saw the creation of the UN as an opportunity to pursue its claim. Talks between British and Argentine foreign missions took place in the 1960s but failed to come to any meaningful conclusion. A major sticking point in all the negotiations was that the inhabitants preferred that the islands remain British territory.[32]

A result of these talks, was the establishment of the islands' first air link. In 1971, the Argentine state airline LADE, began a service between Comodoro Rivadavia and Stanley. A temporary strip was followed by the construction of a permanent airfield and flights between Stanley and Comodoro Rivadavia continued until 1982.[33][34][35] Further agreements gave YPF, the Argentine national oil and gas company, a monopoly over the supply of the islands' energy needs.[36]

Falklands War and its aftermath

British paratroopers guard Argentine prisoners of war

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and other British territories in the South Atlantic. The military junta which had ruled Argentina since 1976 sought to maintain power by diverting public attention from the nation's poor economic performance and exploiting the long-standing feelings of the Argentines towards the islands.[37] Several British writers hold that the United Kingdom's reduction in military capacity in the South Atlantic also encouraged the invasion.[38][39][40]

The United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 502, calling on Argentina to withdraw forces from the Islands and for both parties to seek a diplomatic solution.[41] International reaction ranged from support for Argentina in Latin American countries (except Chile, Colombia and Mexico), to opposition in the Commonwealth and Europe (apart from Spain), and the United States.[citation needed]

The British sent an expeditionary force to retake the islands, leading to the Falklands War. After short but fierce naval and air battles, the British landed at San Carlos Water on 21 May, and a land campaign followed leading the British taking the high ground surrounding Stanley on 11 June. The Argentine forces surrendered on 14 June 1982. The war resulted in the deaths of 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors and airmen, as well as 3 civilian Falklanders.[42]

After the war, the British increased their military presence on the islands, constructing RAF Mount Pleasant and increasing the military garrison.[43] Although the United Kingdom and Argentina resumed diplomatic relations in 1990, no further negotiations on sovereignty have taken place.[44] Between 18,000 and 25,000 land mines remain from the 1982 war dispersed in a number of minefields around Port Stanley, Port Howard, Fox Bay and Goose Green.[45] Information is available from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operation Centre in Stanley.[45] In 2009 mine clearance began at Surf Bay, and further clearances took place at Sapper Hill, Goose Green and Fox Bay. Further clearance work is due to begin in 2011.[46]

Sovereignty dispute

Although the United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes the Falkland Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories,[47] it has been asserted that the Falkland Islands is one of 16 territories which have too small a population, "to survive as viable, fully independent state."[48] Both the United Kingdom and the Argentine governments claim responsibility for the islands. United Kingdom bases its claim on continuous administration of the islands since 1833 (apart from the Argentine military occupation in 1982) and the Islanders’ "right to self determination, including their right to remain British if that is their wish".[49] Argentina claims that it acquired the islands from Spain when Argentina became independent in 1811 and that the United Kingdom exceeded their authority by expelling the Argentine settlers in 1833.[50] The islanders reject the Argentine sovereignty claim.[51]

Before the Falklands War

Shortly after the formation of the United Nations in 1945, Argentina asserted its right to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. In 1947, the United Kingdom offered to submit the case to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, but Argentina refused the offer. A unilateral application by the United Kingdom in 1955 to the Court in respect of Argentine encroachment ended in deadlock when Argentina announced that it would not respect the decision of the court.[52]

In the late 1960s, as part of the United Kingdom's decolonisation policy, secret discussions were held by the British and Argentine governments to identify a means by which the United Kingdom could cede the islands to Argentina while protecting the rights and way of life of the Islanders. Details of the talks were leaked and the islanders protested against the talks having taken place. Subsequently however, economic and transport links between Argentina and the Islands were established, but the political situation remained unchanged.[53] In April 1982, four months after Leopoldo Galtieri became President of Argentina, Argentine military forces invaded the islands leading to the Falklands War.

After the Falklands War

The dispute over control of the islands has continued since the Falklands War,[50] although diplomatic relations between Argentina and the UK were resumed in 1990.[44] In 1994, Argentina added its claim to the islands to the Argentine constitution, stating that this claim must be pursued in a manner "respectful of the way of life of their inhabitants and according to the principles of international law".[54] Since the war, successive Argentine governments have stated their intention to pursue their claim to the islands by peaceful means. Kirchner, campaigning for president in 2003, regarded the islands as a top priority, taking actions such as banning flights to the Falklands from Argentine airspace. In June 2003 the issue was brought before a United Nations committee, and attempts have been made to open talks with the United Kingdom to resolve the issue of the islands.[44]

In 1998, in retaliation for the arrest in London of the former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean government banned flights between Punta Arenas and Port Stanley, thus isolating the islands from the rest of the world. Uruguay and Brazil refused to authorise direct flights between their territories and Port Stanley. This forced the Islands' government to enter negotiations with the Argentine government and led to Argentina authorising direct flights between its territory and Stanley, on condition that Argentine citizens be allowed on the islands.[55]

Christina Fernández shaking hands with Gordon Brown
Argentine President Cristina Fernández with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009

In 2007, 25 years after the war, Argentina reasserted its claim over the Falkland Islands, asking for the UK to resume talks on sovereignty.[56] In March 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated in a meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernández that there would be no talks over the future sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.[57] As far as the governments of the UK and of the Falkland Islands are concerned, there is no issue to resolve. The Falkland Islanders themselves are almost entirely British and maintain their allegiance to the United Kingdom.[58][59][60]

In October 2007 a British spokeswoman confirmed that Britain intended to submit a claim[61] to the UN to extend seabed territory around the Falklands and South Georgia, in advance of the expiry of the deadline[62] for territorial claims following Britain's ratification of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.[63] This claim would enable Britain to control activities such as fishing within the zone, in areas not conflicting with the Antarctic Treaty.[64] Argentina has indicated it will challenge any British claim to Antarctic territory and the area around the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.[65] Argentina made a similar claim in 2009,[66] and the United Kingdom quickly protested against these claims.[67]

In 2009, when delegates from the Falkland Islands were invited to the World Summit on Fishing Sustainability, the Argentine delegation protested and walked out of the conference.[44] In February 2010, the Argentine government announced that ships traversing Argentine territorial waters en route to the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands would require a permit, as part of a dispute over British oil exploration near the Falklands. The British and Falkland governments stated that Falklands-controlled waters were unaffected.[68]

Politics and government

The islands are a British Overseas Territory which, under the 2009 Constitution, enjoys a large degree of internal self government with the United Kingdom guaranteeing good government and taking responsibility for defence and foreign affairs.[69][70]

Arms of Government

Executive authority is vested in the Queen and is exercised by the Governor on her behalf. The Governor is also responsible for the administration of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, as these islands have no native inhabitants. The governor acts on the advice of the Executive Council, composed of himself as chairman, the Chief Executive, Financial Secretary and three elected Legislative Assembly Members.[70] The current Governor Nigel Haywood took office in October 2010.[2]

The Legislative Assembly consists of the Chief Executive, Financial Secretary and the eight members elected for four-year terms by universal suffrage, of whom five are from Stanley and three from Camp.[70] It is presided over by the Speaker, currently Keith Biles.

Justice is administered by a resident senior magistrate and a non-resident Chief Justice of the Islands who visits the islands at least once a year. The senior magistrate handles petty criminal cases, civil, commercial, admiralty and family cases and is also the island's coroner. The chief justice handles serious criminal cases and hears appeals.[71] The constitution binds the judiciary to comply with decisions of the European Court of Human Rights when hearing cases related to human rights.[70]


Although a British military garrison is stationed on the Falkland Islands, the islands have a company-sized light infantry unit (FIDF) that is completely funded by the Falklands government (£400,000 in 2009).[72] The unit is trained under a secondment arrangement with the MOD – as of 2010 the FIDF employed a Royal Marine WO2 as a permanent staff instructor and a major as commanding officer; the rest of the force are part-timers. It is equipped with quad bikes, inflatable boats and Land Rovers and is armed with heavy machineguns, grenade launchers and sniper rifles. In addition to defence duties, force provides a mountain rescue service and has been trained by the Royal Navy in mounting armed deterrence against illegal fishing activity.[72][73]


There are approximately 380 children between the ages of 5 and 16 on the islands (excluding families of military personnel).[74] Their education, which follows the English system, is free and compulsory. Primary education is available at Stanley where there are boarding facilities, at RAF Mount Pleasant for children of service personnel and at a number of rural settlements where remote learning is supported by the Stanley based Camp Education Unit. The Islands' only secondary school is in Stanley and offers boarding facilities and 12 subjects to GCSE level. After 16, suitably qualified students may study at two colleges in England for their A-levels or for vocational qualifications. The government pays for older students to attend higher education, usually in the UK.[75]

Medical care

The Falkland Islands Government Health and Social Services Department provides medical and dental care for the islands.[76] The King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH), completed in 1987, is Stanley's only hospital. It is run jointly by the Falkland Islands Government and the UK Ministry of Defence.[77] Specialist medical care is provided by visiting ophthalmologists, gynaecologists, ENT surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, oral surgeons and psychiatrists from the United Kingdom. Patients needing emergency treatment are air-lifted to the United Kingdom or to Santiago (Chile).[76][78]

Geography and ecology

Map of the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands are located in the South Atlantic Ocean on a projection of the Patagonian continental shelf about 250 nautical miles (288 mi; 463 km) from the Patagonia coastline and slightly to the north of the southerly tip of Cape Horn and of its undersea extension, the Scotia Arc. In ancient geological time this shelf was part of Gondwana, which around 400 million years ago broke from what is now Africa and drifted westwards relative to Africa.[79]

Landform description

The Falklands, which has a total land area is 4,700 square miles (12,173 km2) and a coastline estimated at 800 miles (1288 km),[4] comprise two main islands, West Falkland and East Falkland and about 776 small islands. The islands are heavily indented by sounds and fjords and have many natural harbours.[80] The two main islands are separated by the Falkland Sound which averages 12 miles (20 km) in width. Much of the northern part of the sound which is clear water approaches 40 metres (22 fathoms) in depth, but the southern part, which has many flat islands and some shoals, has a number of channels that are much deeper.[81][82][83][84][original research?]

San Carlos Water, one of many inlets on East Falkland

East Falkland, which contains the capital Stanley and the British military base at Mount Pleasant, is the more populous of the two main islands.[85]

Both West Falkland and the northern part of East Falkland have mountain ranges that are underlaid with Palaeozoic rock, which, as a result of secondary forces associated with continental drift are at 120° to each other.[86] The highest point of the islands is Mount Usborne, 705 metres (2,313 ft) on East Falkland, while Mount Adam on West Falkland is only 5 metres (16 ft) lower.[85] The southern part of East Falkland, the Lafonia Peninsula, which is connected to the rest of the island by a 4 km narrow isthmus, is dissimilar to the rest of the island. Most of Lafonia is a flat plain underlain by younger Mesozoic rock, but in the north west is Permian rock which similar to that of parts of Ecca Pass in South Africa.[86][87]

The islands claim a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles (13.8 mi; 22.2 km) and an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles (230.2 mi; 370.4 km), which has been a source of disagreement with Argentina.

Flora and fauna

Biogeographically, the Falkland Islands are classified as part of the Antarctic ecozone[88] and Antarctic Floristic Kingdom.[89] Strong connections exist with the flora and fauna of Patagonia in South America.[79] The only terrestrial mammal upon the arrival of Europeans was the warrah, a kind of fox found on both major islands.[87] It became extinct in the mid 19th century.[85] 14 species of marine mammals frequent the surrounding waters.[90] The elephant seal, the fur seal, and the sea lions all breed on the islands, and the largest elephant seal breeding site has over 500 animals in it.[91] 227 bird species have been seen on the islands,[79] over 60 of which are known to breed on the islands.[91] There are two endemic species of bird, and 14 endemic subspecies.[79] There are five penguin species breeding on the islands, and over 60% of the global black-browed albatross population also breed in the area.[90]

Five penguins walking up a grassy slope against the wind
Penguins at Gypsy Cove

There are no native reptiles or amphibians on the islands. Over 200 species of insects have been recorded, along with 43 spider species and 12 worm species. Only 13 terrestrial invertebrates are recognised as endemic, although information on many species in lacking and it is suspected up to two thirds of species found are actually endemic. Due to the island environment, many insect species have developed reduced or absent wings. There are around 129 freshwater invertebrates, the majority being rotifer, however the identification of some species remains in dispute.[79] Six species of fish are found in freshwater areas, including zebra trout and falklands minnows.[79] Different species of krill are found in Falkland waters, with Lobster Krill inhabiting the warmer waters in the north.[86]

There are no native tree species on the archipelago, although two species of bushes, fachine and native box are found. Other vegetation consists of grasses and ferns.[85] Around 363 species of vascular plants, 21 species of ferns and clubmosses and 278 species of flowering plants have been recorded on the islands. Of the vascular plants, 171 are believed to be native and 13 to be endemic.[79] Some bogs and fens exist and support some freshwater plant species, but these are not common on the islands.[86] Tussac grass, which averages 2 m (6.6 ft) in height but can reach up to 4 m (13 ft), is found within 300 m (1,000 ft) of the coast where it forms bands around larger islands. The dense canopies formed create an insulated micro-climate suitable for many birds and invertebrates.[86] The Pale Maiden (Sisyrinchium jubatum) is the Islands' national flower.[91]

There is little long-term data on habitat changes, so the extent of human impact is unclear.[79] Vegetation such as tussac grass, fachine, and native box have been heavily impacted by introduced grazing animals. Many breeding birds similarly only live on offshore islands, where introduced animals such as cats and rats are not found.[86] Virtually the entire area of the islands is used as pasture for sheep. There is also an introduced reindeer population, which was brought to the islands in 2001 for commercial purposes.[4] Rats[87] and Grey foxes have been introduced and are having a detrimental impact on birds that nest on the shores, as are feral cats. 22 introduced plant species are thought to provide a significant threat to local flora.[79]


The Falkland Islands have a Maritime Subarctic climate (Koppen Cfc) that is very much influenced by the cool South Atlantic ocean and its northerly Patagonian current giving it a narrow annual temperature range. The January average maximum temperature is about 13°C (55°F), and the July maximum average temperature is about 4°C (39°F). The average annual rainfall is 573.6 millimetres (22.58 inches) with East Falkland being generally wetter than West Falkland.[90] Humidity and winds are however constantly high. Snow and sleet are frequent in winter, although snowfall is rarely deep. Gales are very frequent, particularly in winter.[92] The climate is similar to that of the Shetland islands in the United Kingdom, but with less rainfall and longer and slightly more severe winters.[92]

Climate data for Stanley, Falkland Islands
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24
Average high °C (°F) 13
Average low °C (°F) 6
Record low °C (°F) −1
Precipitation mm (inches) 71
humidity 78 79 82 86 88 89 89 87 84 80 75 77 82.8
Source: BBC Weather[93]


Reverse of a one-pound coin from the Falkland Islands

Except for defence, the islands are self sufficient with annual exports of $125 million and imports of $90 million (2004 estimate).[4]

The Falkland Islands use the Falkland pound, which circulates interchangeably with the pound sterling and which is backed by the pound sterling on a one-for-one basis.[94] Falkland coins are produced in the United Kingdom;[95] coins are identical in size to the United Kingdom currency but with local designs on the reverse. The Falkland Islands also issue their own stamps. Both the coins and stamps are a source of revenue from overseas collectors.[94]

Farmland accounts for 1,123,985 ha (4,339.73 sq mi), more than 90% of the Falklands land area.[96] Since 1984, efforts to diversify the economy have made fishing the largest part of the economy and brought increasing income from tourism.[97] Sheep farming was formerly the main source of income for the islands and still plays an important part with high quality wool exports going to the UK. According to the Falklands Government Statistics there are over 500,000 sheep on the islands with roughly 60% on East Falkland and 40% on West Falkland.[96]

The government has operated a fishing zone policy since 1986 with the sale of fishing licences to foreign countries. These licences have recently raised only £12 to 15 million a year in revenue, as opposed to £20m to £25m annually during the 1990s. Locally registered fishing boats are also in operation. More than 75% of the annual catch of 200,000 tonnes (220,000 short tons) is squid.[98]

Map of the Falkland Islands economic zone in relation to her neighbours

Tourism has grown rapidly. The islands have become a regular port of call for the growing market of cruise ships with more than 36,000 visitors in 2004.[99] Attractions include the scenery and wildlife conservation with penguins, seabirds, seals and sealions, as well as visits to battlefields, golf, fishing and wreck diving. British military expenditures add to the islands' "tourism" income.[citation needed]

A 1995 agreement between the UK and Argentina had set the terms for exploitation of offshore resources including oil reserves[100] as geological surveys had shown there might be up to 60 billion barrels (9.5 billion cubic metres) of oil under the sea bed surrounding the islands.[101] However, in 2007 Argentina unilaterally withdrew from the agreement.[102] In response, Falklands Oil and Gas Limited has signed an agreement with BHP Billiton to investigate the potential exploitation of oil reserves.[103] Climatic conditions of the southern seas mean that exploitation will be a difficult task, though economically viable, and the continuing sovereignty dispute with Argentina is hampering progress.[104]

In February 2010, exploratory drilling for oil was begun by Desire Petroleum,[105] but the results from the first test well were disappointing.[106] Two months later, on 6 May 2010, Rockhopper Exploration announced that "it may have struck oil".[107] Subsequent tests showed it to be a commercially viable find,[108] an appraisal project was launched [109] and on 14th September 2011 Rockhopper Exploration announced plans are under way for oil production to commence in 2016, through the use of Floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) technology.[110]


Christ Church Cathedral with an arch made of whale bone, Stanley

Census figures show that the population rose from an estimate of 287 in 1851 to 2272 in 1911. It was 2094 in 1921 and 2392 in 1931 but then it declined and in 1980 the population was 1813. The population then rose and was 2955 in 2006. The 2006 census recorded 2115 people in Stanley and 477 in Mount Pleasant, 194 in the rest of East Falkland, 127 in West Falkland and 42 people in all the other islands. These figures exclude all military personnel and their families, but includes 477 people who were present in the Falkland Islands in connection with the military garrison.[111] The CIA stated that in July 2008, the population was estimated to be 3,140.[4]

The age distribution of the islands residents is skewed towards people of working age (20–60) – 65% as opposed to 21% aged below 20 and 14% aged above 60. Males outnumber females by 53% to 47% with the deviation being most prominent in the age group 20–60.[111] About 70 per cent are of British descent, primarily as a result of Scottish and Welsh immigration to the islands.[112] The most predominant religion is Christianity, of which the primary denominations are Church of England, Roman Catholic, United Free Church, and Lutheran. The native-born inhabitants call themselves "Islanders"; the term "Kelpers", from the kelp which grows profusely around the islands, is no longer used in the Islands. People from the United Kingdom who have obtained Falkland Island status are known locally as 'belongers'. With retrospective effect from 1 January 1983, as provided in the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983, the islanders have been full British citizens. For the Argentine position on Falklanders’ citizenship, see Current claims.[citation needed]



Freedom of expression in the Falkland Islands is guaranteed by the constitution, with the United Kingdom's superior courts explicitly empowered to hear appeals.[70] Freedom of the press is comparable to that of the United Kingdom;[113] which, in turn, in the view of many commentators, is significantly better than that of any other South American country.[114][115] The islands have two weekly newspapers – The Penguin News, published by Mercopress and the Teaberry Express published by Falkland Islands News Network.[113]

Falkland Islands technical standards for radio and television are identical to those in the United Kingdom or, in the case of Medium Wave broadcasts, the Americas. There are approximately 1000 television sets and 1000 radio receivers on the islands.[113] Two terrestrial television channels are broadcast by the BFBS1 broadcasts while KTV Ltd. relay a number of satellite services such as BBC, CNN via cable to subscribers in Stanley.[116] Radio broadcasting is supported by seven FM radio stations and one AM radio station. The first broadcasting service, the Falkland Islands Broadcasting Service, established in 1929 used landlines connected to a speaker in people's homes. This was upgraded to wireless in 1942 and a 5 kW medium wave transmitter installed in 1954. VHF was introduced in 1999. In 2005 the service was privatised and renamed Falkland Islands Radio Service (FIRS).[117]


The Falkland Islands has a modern telecommunications network providing fixed line telephone, ADSL and dial-up internet services. Telephones to outlying settlements use microwave radio.[citation needed] The first telephones in the Falklands were installed in 1881 by the Falkland Island Company with lines to all settlements in Camp being installed by 1907. In 1911, Marconi built a telegraph office that permitted telegrams to be sent to Montevideo. In 1950 the fixed line telephone service to Camp was replaced by a radio service;[118] the 2006 census showed that of the 307 2-metre radio receivers in the islands, 129 were located in Camp.[111] In 1989, Cable and Wireless won the contract to provide the Island's national and international telephone services. In 2005, a GSM 900[119] mobile network was installed[120] providing coverage to Stanley, Mount Pleasant and surrounding areas operating under the Touch Mobile brand.

In 2006, Broadband was successfully implemented in Stanley and Mount Pleasant Complex, and was rolled out across the islands in 2008/09.[118] The International Telecommunication Union figures for 2010 identified the Falkland Islands as having the highest proportion of internet users in the world - 95.84% as against 95.0% in Iceland (2nd), 85.0% in the United Kingdom, 79.0% in the United States and 36% in Argentina.[121]


Typical Falkland Islands road

The Falkland Islands have 67 motor vehicles per 100 people with 4x4 vehicles accounting for 66% of the total.[111] In 1982, the Falkland Islands had no roads outside Stanley, only tracks.[122] By 2007, the Falkland Islands had a road network of 488 miles (786 km), with a further 31 miles (50 km) planned for construction by the end of 2013. This will complete the links to all occupied mainland settlements.[123] Speed limits are 25 mph (40 km/h) in built-up areas and 40 mph (64 km/h) elsewhere.[124]

The Falkland Islands have two airports with paved runways – the main international airport RAF Mount Pleasant, 27 miles (43 km) west of Stanley.[125] opened in 1986 and the smaller Port Stanley Airport on the outskirts of Stanley, opened in 1979 following the 1971 Anglo-Argentine agreement regarding an air link between the countries.[126] Mount Pleasant is used for military purposes and for heavy aircraft that require long runways, whereas Stanley is used for internal flights and smaller aircraft.

The Royal Air Force operates flights from RAF Mount Pleasant to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, England, with a refuelling stop at RAF Ascension Island. RAF flights are on TriStars although charter aircraft are often used if the TriStars are required for operational flights.[127] Local military air support – moving of personnel, equipment and supplies around the islands is carried out under contract by British International (BRINTEL) who operate two Sikorsky S61N helicopters. The principal civilian air operator at Mount Pleasant is LAN Airlines who operate weekly flights to Santiago, Chile via Punta Arenas with an additional stop once a month at Río Gallegos, Argentina.[128]

The main operator at Port Stanley Airport is the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) that operates Islander aircraft which can use the grass airstrips at most settlements. Flight schedules, which are broadcast on the radio every evening, are planned on a daily basis according to passenger needs.[129] Private operators from Stanley include the British Antarctic Survey who operate an air link to the Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula and also serve other British bases in the British Antarctic Territory using a de Havilland Canada Dash 7

See also



  1. ^ Joshua Project. "Ethnic People Groups of Falkland Islands". Joshua Project. http://www.joshuaproject.net/countries.php?rog3=FK. Retrieved 28 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Lisa Watson (1 September 2009). "British consul in Basra next Falkland Islands governor". MercoPress. http://en.mercopress.com/2009/09/01/british-consul-in-basra-next-falkland-islands-governor. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  3. ^ "Falkland Islands Government appoints new Chief Executive" (Press release). Falkland Islands Government. 30 August 2007. http://www.falklands.gov.fk/news-2007.php. Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)". CIA. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/fk.html. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Pepper, Peter J (March 2001). "Port Desire and the Discovery of the Falklands". Falkland Islands Newsletter. http://www.falklands.info/history/histarticle19.html. Retrieved 6 March 2010 
  6. ^ "Falklands: the Falklands, las (islas) Malvinas". Wordreference.com. http://www.wordreference.com/es/translation.asp?tranword=Falklands&B10=Buscar&dict=enes. Retrieved 15 March 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Part 2 - Fort St. Louis and Port Egmont". A Brief History of the Falkland Islands. Falkland Islands Information Portal. http://www.falklands.info/history/history2.html. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "Country names and code elements". International Organization for Standardization. http://www.iso.org/iso/country_codes/iso_3166_code_lists/country_names_and_code_elements.htm. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Agreement of 14th July 1999". Falklands.info. http://www.falklands.info/background/99agree.html. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  10. ^ "PSYOP of the Falkland Islands War". Psywar.org. http://www.psywar.org/falklands.php. Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  11. ^ Goebel, 1971, pp. xiv–xv
  12. ^ "Culture of Falkland Islands – history, people, clothing, beliefs, food, life, immigrants, population, religion". http://www.everyculture.com/Cr-Ga/Falkland-Islands.html. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Goebel, 1971, pp. 45–46
  14. ^ "The Discovery of the Falkland Islands". http://www.falklands.info/history/history1.html. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  15. ^ Goebel, 1971, pp. 226
  16. ^ Goebel, 1971, pp. 232
  17. ^ a b c "A brief history of the Falkland Islands Part 2 – Fort St. Louis and Port Egmont". Falklands.info. http://www.falklands.info/history/history2.html. Retrieved 8 September 2007. 
  18. ^ "Falkland Islands Timeline: A chronology of events in the history of the Falkland Islands". Falklands.info. http://www.falklands.info/history/timeline.html. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  19. ^ a b c Tatham, 2008, pp. 308–309
  20. ^ a b c Peter Pepper, Graham Pascoe (1 June 2008). "Luis Vernet". In David Tatham. The Dictionary of Falklands Biography (Including South Georgia): From Discovery Up to 1981. D. Tatham. pp. 541–544. ISBN 978-0-9558985-0-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=0D0VNAAACAAJ. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "A brief history of the Falkland Islands Part 3". Falklands.info. http://www.falklands.info/history/history3.html. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  22. ^ "Silas Duncan and the Falklands' Incident". USS Duncan Reunion Association. 2001. http://www.ussduncan.org/silas_page13.htm. Retrieved 25 August 2011. "The letters show that the USS Lexington, under the command of Silas Duncan, visited the Falklands in December, 1831, to investigate complaints by American fishermen that a "band of pirates" was operating from the Islands. After finding what he considered proof that at least four American fishing ships had been captured, plundered, and even outfitted for war, Duncan took seven prisoners onboard Lexington and charged them with piracy. The leaders of the prisoners was Louis Vernet, a German, and Matthew Brisbane, an Englishman both of Buenos Aries." 
  23. ^ Tatham, 2008, pp. 117
  24. ^ "Historical Dates". Falkland Islands Government. http://www.falklands.gov.fk/Historical_Dates.html. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
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  28. ^ Lewis, Jason; Alison Inglis. "A Brief History of the Falkland Islands, Part 4 - The British Colonial Era". http://www.falklands.info/history/history4.html. Retrieved 2 September 2011. "In 1839 a British merchant adventurer, G.T. Whittington, formed the Falkland Islands Commercial Fishery and Agricultural Association and tried to put pressure on the British government to proceed with the colonisation of the Falkland Islands. He published a leaflet entitled 'The Falkland Islands' containing material acquired indirectly from Vernet, and then presented to the government a petition signed by owner a hundred London merchants, shipowners and traders demanding that a public meeting be held to discuss the future of the Falkland Islands. In April 1840 he wrote to the Colonial Secretary, Lord Russell, proposing that the Islands be colonised by his Association. In May the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners decided that the Falkland Islands were suitable for colonisation." 
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  125. ^ "Stanley Airport Celebrates 25th Birthday". Falklands.info. March 2004. http://www.falklands.info/history/histarticle7.html. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  126. ^ "Air Seychelles begins operating Brize Norton-Falklands Air Bridge". MercoPress. 28 January 2011. http://en.mercopress.com/2010/01/27/air-seychelles-begins-operating-brize-norton-falklands-air-bridge. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  127. ^ "Official Tourism Website of the Falkland Islands". Xtold.visitorfalklands.com. 18 August 2009. http://xtold.visitorfalklands.com/content/view/186/175/. Retrieved 9 June 2010. [dead link]
  128. ^ "Internal flights (FIGAS)". Falkland Islands Tourist Board. http://www.falklandislands.com/contents/view/116. Retrieved 27 March 2011. 


Julius Goebel (August 1971). The struggle for the Falkland Islands: a study in legal and diplomatic history. Kennikat Press. ISBN 9780804613903. http://books.google.com/books?id=V_lNAAAAMβAJ. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 

Laurio Hedelvio Destéfani (1982). The Malvinas, the South Georgias, and the South Sandwich Islands, the conflict with Britain. Edipress. ISBN 9789500169042. http://books.google.com/books?id=sGAJSfxqd7oC. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 

David Tatham (1 June 2008). The Dictionary of Falklands Biography (Including South Georgia): From Discovery Up to 1981. D. Tatham. ISBN 9780955898501. http://books.google.com/books?id=0D0VNAAACAAJ. Retrieved 17 March 2011. 

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 51°41′S 59°10′W / 51.683°S 59.167°W / -51.683; -59.167

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