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Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands ( or ; ) are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located over east of the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago comprises East Falkland, West Falkland, and 776 lesser islands. Stanley, the capital and only city, is on East Falkland. The islands are a self-governing British Overseas Territory, with the United Kingdom responsible for its defence and foreign affairs.

Controversy exists over the Falklands' original discovery and subsequent colonisation by Europeans. At various times there have been French, British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements. Britain re-established its rule in 1833, yet the islands continue to be claimed by Argentina. In 1982, following Argentina's invasion of the islands, the two-month-long undeclared Falklands War between both countries resulted in the withdrawal of Argentine forces. Despite its defeat, Argentina still pursues its claim; however, UK policy supports the islanders' self-determination to remain British citizens.

The population, estimated at 3,140, primarily consists of 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 former population decline. The predominant and official language is English. Under the British Nationality Act of 1983, Falkland Islanders are British citizens.

Both major islands have mountain ranges, both reaching to around . The islands are home to large bird populations, although many no longer breed on the main islands due to introduced species. Major economic activities include fishing, tourism, and sheep farming (used for 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 took their English name from "Falkland Sound", the channel between the two main islands, which was in turn named after Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount of Falkland, by Captain John Strong, who landed on the islands in 1690.[1] The Spanish name, las (Islas) Malvinas,[2] is derived from the French name,[3] les 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.[3] The ISO designation is Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and its ISO country code is FK.[4]

As a result of the 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.[5] General Sir Jeremy Moore would not allow the use of Islas Malvinas in the surrender document, dismissing it as a propaganda term.[6]

History to 1982

Controversy exists as to who first discovered the Falkland Islands, with competing Portuguese, Spanish, and British claims in the 16th century.[7][8] While Amerindians from Patagonia could have visited the Falklands,[9] the islands were uninhabited when discovered by Europeans.[10] 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.[11]

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 of Falkland, who as Commissioner of the Admiralty had financed the expedition. The island group takes its English name from this body of water.[12]

John Byron, by Joshua Reynolds, 1759. In 1764 French navigator and military commander Louis Antoine de Bougainville founded the first settlement on Berkeley Sound, in present-day Port Louis, East Falkland.[13] In 1765, British captain John Byron explored and claimed Saunders Island on West Falkland, where he named the harbour Port Egmont and a settlement was constructed in 1766.[14] Unaware of the French presence, Byron claimed the island group for King George III. Spain acquired the French colony in 1767 and placed it under a governor subordinate to the Buenos Aires colonial administration. In 1770, Spain attacked Port Egmont and expelled the British presence, bringing the two countries to the brink of war. War was avoided by a peace treaty and the British return to Port Egmont.[15]

In 1774 economic pressures leading up to the American Revolutionary War forced Great Britain to withdraw from many overseas settlements.[15][16] 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 in 1811.[15]

In 1820 storm damage forced the privateer Hero na to take shelter in the islands.[17] Her captain David Jewett raised the flag of the United Provinces of the River Plate and read a proclamation claiming the islands.[17] This became public knowledge in Buenos Aires nearly a year later following the publication of the proclamation in the Salem Gazette.[17] After several failures, Luis Vernet established a settlement in 1828 with authorisation from the Republic of Buenos Aires and Great Britain.[18] In 1829, after asking for assistance from Buenos Aires, he was instead proclaimed Military and Civil Commander of the islands.[18] Additionally, Vernet asked the British to protect his settlement if they returned.[19]

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 four 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[25] 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.[26][27][28] 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.[29]

Road sign to the capital A new harbour was built in Stanley,[30] 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.[31] 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.[32]

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.[33]

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.[34][35][36] Further agreements gave YPF, the Argentine national oil and gas company, a monopoly over the supply of the islands' energy needs.[37]

Falklands War and its aftermath

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 the growing internal opposition and exploiting the long-standing feelings of the Argentines towards the islands.[38] Several British writers hold that the United Kingdom's reduction in military capacity in the South Atlantic also encouraged the invasion.[39][40][41]

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.[42] International reaction ranged from support for Argentina in Latin American countries (except Chile, Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago), to opposition in the Commonwealth and Western Europe (apart from Spain[43]). A divided United States administration, initially publicly neutral, eventually came out in support of the United Kingdom.[44]

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 to 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.[45]

After the war, the British increased their military presence on the islands, constructing RAF Mount Pleasant and increasing the military garrison.[46] Although the United Kingdom and Argentina resumed diplomatic relations in 1990, no further negotiations on sovereignty have taken place.[47] Between 18,000 and 25,000 Argentine land mines remain from the 1982 war dispersed in a number of minefields around Stanley, Port Howard, Fox Bay and Goose Green.[48] Information is available from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operation Centre in Stanley.[48] In 2009 mine clearance began at Surf Bay, and further clearances took place at Sapper Hill, Goose Green and Fox Bay. Further clearance work was due to begin in 2011.[49]

Sovereignty dispute

A sign at the Argentine-Brazilian border, translated into English, proclaims
A sign at the Argentine-Brazilian border, translated into English, proclaims "The Malvinas are Argentine". There are several signs like this in Argentina.
Although the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization includes the Falkland Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories,[50] 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."[51] Both the United Kingdom and the Argentine governments claim responsibility for the islands. The 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".[52] Argentina claims that it acquired the islands from Spain when Argentina became independent in 1816 and that the United Kingdom exceeded their authority by expelling the Argentine settlers in 1833.[53] The islanders reject the Argentine sovereignty claim.[54]

Before the Falklands War

Shortly after the formation of the United Nations in 1945, Argentina asserted its right to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and its dependencies. In 1947, the United Kingdom offered to submit the case over the Falkland Islands Dependencies 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.[55]

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.[56] 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,[53] although diplomatic relations between Argentina and the UK were resumed in 1990.[47] 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".[57] 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.[47]

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 Stanley, thus isolating the islands from the rest of the world. Uruguay and Brazil refused to authorise direct flights between their territories and 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.[58]

Argentine President Cristina Fern ndez with the then 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.[59] In March 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated in a meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fern ndez that there would be no talks over the future sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.[60] As far as the governments of the UK and of the Falkland Islands are concerned, there is no issue to resolve. The Falkland Islanders consider themselves as almost entirely British and maintain their allegiance to the United Kingdom.[61][62][63]

In October 2007 a British spokeswoman confirmed that Britain intended to submit a claim[64] to the UN to extend seabed territory around the Falklands and South Georgia, in advance of the expiry of the deadline[65] for territorial claims following Britain's ratification of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.[66] This claim would enable Britain to control activities such as fishing within the zone, in areas not conflicting with the Antarctic Treaty.[67] Argentina has indicated it will challenge any British claim to Antarctic territory and the area around the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.[68] Argentina made a similar claim in 2009,[69] and the United Kingdom quickly protested against these claims.[70]

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.[47] 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.[71]

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.[72][73]

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, Director of Finance and three elected Legislative Assembly Members.[73] The current Governor Nigel Haywood took office in October 2010.[74]

The Legislative Assembly consists of the Chief Executive, Director of Finance and the eight members elected for four-year terms by universal suffrage, of whom five are from Stanley and three from Camp.[73] The last election took place on Thursday 5 November 2009 (Falkland Islands general election, 2009). 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.[75] The constitution binds the judiciary to comply with decisions of the European Court of Human Rights when hearing cases related to human rights.[73]


Badge of the Falkland Islands Defence Force A British military garrison is stationed on the Falkland Islands, and the islands also have a company-sized light infantry unit (FIDF) that is completely funded by the Falklands government ( 400,000 in 2009).[76] The unit is trained under a secondment arrangement with the MOD 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, the force provides a mountain rescue service and has been trained by the Royal Navy in mounting armed deterrence against illegal fishing activity.[76][77]


There are approximately 380 children between the ages of 5 and 16 on the islands (excluding families of military personnel).[78] 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.[79]

Medical care

The Falkland Islands Government Health and Social Services Department provides medical and dental care for the islands.[80] 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.[81] 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).[80][82]


Map of the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands are located in the South Atlantic Ocean on a projection of the Patagonian continental shelf about 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.[83]

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),[84] 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.[85] The two main islands are separated by the Falkland Sound which averages in width. Much of the northern part of the sound which is clear water approaches in depth, but the southern part, which has many flat islands and some shoals, has a number of channels that are much deeper.[86][87][88][89]

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.[90]

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.[91] The highest point of the islands is Mount Usborne, on East Falkland, while Mount Adam on West Falkland is only lower.[90] 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.[91][92]

The islands claim a territorial sea of and an Exclusive Economic Zone of , which has been a source of disagreement with Argentina.


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.[93] 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.[94] The climate is similar to that of Shetland in the UK, but with less rainfall and longer and slightly more severe winters.[94]


Biogeographically, the Falkland Islands are classified as part of the Antarctic ecozone[95] and Antarctic Floristic Kingdom.[96] Strong connections exist with the flora and fauna of Patagonia in South America.[83] The only terrestrial mammal upon the arrival of Europeans was the warrah, a kind of fox found on both major islands.[92] It became extinct in the mid 19th century.[90] 14 species of marine mammals frequent the surrounding waters.[93] 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.[97] 227 bird species have been seen on the islands,[83] over 60 of which are known to breed on the islands.[97] There are two endemic species of bird, and 14 endemic subspecies.[83] There are five penguin species breeding on the islands, and over 60% of the global black-browed albatross population also breed in the area.[93]

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 is 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.[83] Six species of fish are found in freshwater areas, including zebra trout and falklands minnows.[83] Different species of krill are found in Falkland waters, with Lobster Krill inhabiting the warmer waters in the north.[91]

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.[90] 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.[83] Some bogs and fens exist and support some freshwater plant species, but these are not common on the islands.[91] Tussac grass, which averages in height but can reach up to , 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.[91] The Pale Maiden (Sisyrinchium jubatum) is the Islands' national flower.[97]

There is little long-term data on habitat changes, so the extent of human impact is unclear.[83] 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.[91] 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.[84] Rats[92] 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.[83]


Port William]] representing two trends in recent economic development Except for defence, the islands are self sufficient with annual exports of $125 million and imports of $90 million (2004 estimate).[84] 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.[98] Falkland coins are produced in the United Kingdom;[99] 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.[98]

Farmland accounts for , more than 90% of the Falklands land area.[100] Since 1984, efforts to diversify the economy have made fishing the largest part of the economy and brought increasing income from tourism.[101] 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.[100]

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.[102]

Map of the Falkland Islands economic zone in relation to its 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.[103] 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.

A 1995 agreement between the UK and Argentina had set the terms for exploitation of offshore resources including oil reserves[104] as geological surveys had shown there might be up to 60 billion barrels (9.5 billion cubic metres) of oil under the seabed surrounding the islands.[105] However, in 2007 Argentina unilaterally withdrew from the agreement;[106] Falklands Oil and Gas Limited then signed an agreement with BHP Billiton to investigate the potential exploitation of oil reserves.[107] Due to the difficult climatic conditions of the southern seas exploitation will be difficult, though economically viable; the continuing sovereignty dispute with Argentina is also hampering progress.[108]

In February 2010 exploratory drilling for oil was begun by Desire Petroleum,[109] but the results from the first test well were disappointing.[110] Two months later, on 6 May 2010, Rockhopper Exploration announced that "it may have struck oil".[111] Subsequent tests showed it to be a commercially viable find;[112] an appraisal project was launched [113] and on 14 September 2011 Rockhopper Exploration announced that plans were under way for oil production to commence in 2016, through the use of floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) technology.[114]


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 2,272 in 1911. The population was 2,094 in 1921 and 2,392 in 1931 but it then declined to 1,813 in 1980. The population then rose to 2,955 (2006 census). The 2006 census recorded 2,115 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 include 477 people who were present in the Falkland Islands in connection with the military garrison.[115] The CIA stated that in July 2008, the population was estimated to be 3,140,[84] a population decline prior to the Falklands War has reversed, bolstered by immigration from the UK, Saint Helena and Chile.

About 70 per cent of the population is of British descent, primarily as a result of Scottish and Welsh immigration to the islands.[116] A few Islanders are of French, Gibraltarian and Scandinavian descent,[115] the latter stemming from Norwegian whalers operating in the region. There is also a small minority of South American, mainly Chilean origin, and in more recent times many people from Saint Helena have also come to work and live in the Islands.[117] There are a few Argentine residents, including Maria Strange, wife of the author and historian Ian Strange.[118] The native-born inhabitants call themselves "Islanders"; the term "Kelpers", from the kelp (seaweed) 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'. From 1 January 1983, as provided in the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983, the islanders have been full British citizens.

The age distribution of the islands residents is skewed towards people of working age 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.[115] The most predominant religion is Christianity, of which the primary denominations are Church of England, Roman Catholic, United Free Church, and Lutheran.



Freedom of expression in the Falkland Islands is guaranteed by the constitution, with the United Kingdom's superior courts explicitly empowered to hear appeals.[73] Freedom of the press is comparable to that of the United Kingdom;[119] which, in turn, in the view of many commentators, is significantly better than that of any other South American country.[120][121] The islands have two weekly newspapers The Penguin News, published by Mercopress and the Teaberry Express published by Falkland Islands News Network.[119]

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.[119] 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.[122] 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).[123]


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. 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;[124] the 2006 census showed that of the 307 2-metre radio receivers in the islands, 129 were located in Camp.[115] In 1989, Cable and Wireless won the contract to provide the Island's national and international telephone services. In 2005, a GSM 900[125] mobile network was installed[126] 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.[124] 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.[127]


Typical Falkland Islands road
Typical Falkland Islands road
, the Falkland Islands had 67 motor vehicles per 100 people, with 4x4 vehicles accounting for 66% of the total.[115] In 1982, the Falkland Islands had no roads outside Stanley, only tracks.[128] By 2007, the Falkland Islands had a road network of  miles (786 km), with a further  miles (50 km) planned for construction by the end of 2013. This will complete the links to all occupied mainland settlements.[129] Speed limits are 25 mph (40 km/h) in built-up areas and 40 mph (64 km/h) elsewhere.[130]

The Falkland Islands have two airports with paved runways the main international airport RAF Mount Pleasant, west of Stanley.[131] 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.[132] 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.[133] 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 R o Gallegos, Argentina.[134]

Dash-7]] of the British Antarctic Survey at Stanley 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.[135] 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

  • Outline of the Falkland Islands
  • Index of Falkland Islands-related articles



Further reading

External links

af:Falkland-eilande ang:Folcland egland ar: an:Islas Malvinas ast:Islles Malvines az:Folklend adalar bn: zh-min-nan:Falkland K n-t be: be-x-old: bcl:Islang Falkland bg: bs:Falklandska ostrva br:Inizi Malo ca:Illes Malvines ceb:Kapupud-ang Falkland cs:Falklandy cy:Ynysoedd y Falklands da:Falklands erne de:Falklandinseln dv: dsb:Falklandy et:Falklandi saared el: es:Islas Malvinas eo:Insuloj Falklandoj eu:Falkland uharteak fa: hif:Falkland Islands fo:Falklandsoyggjar fr: les Malouines fy:Falkl neilannen ga:Oile in Fh clainne gd:Na h-Eileanan F clainn gl:Illas Malvinas - Falkland Islands gu: hak:Fuk-khiet-l n khi n-t ko: hy: hi: hr:Falklandski otoci io:Falklandi bpy: id:Kepulauan Falkland ia:Insulas Falkland os: ( ) is:Falklandseyjar it:Isole Falkland he: jv:Kapuloan Falkland ka: kk: kw:Ynysow Falkland rw:Ibirwa bya Folukilande sw:Visiwa vya Falkland mrj: la:Insulae Malvinae lv:Folklenda Salas lb:Falkland Inselen lt:Folklando (Malvin ) Salos lij:Isoe Falkland hu:Falkland-szigetek mk: ml: mr: xmf: arz: mzn: ms:Kepulauan Falkland nl:Falklandeilanden ja: no:Falklands yene nn:Falklands yane nrm: les Falkland nov:Falklande Isles oc:Illas Malvinas nds:Falklandinseln pl:Falklandy pt:Ilhas Malvinas ro:Insulele Falkland qu:Malwina wat'akuna ru: sah: se:Falklandsullot sq:Ishujt Falkland scn: suli Falkland simple:Falkland Islands sk:Falklandy sl:Falklandski otoki sr: sh:Falklandi su:Kapuloan Falkland fi:Falklandinsaaret sv:Falklands arna ta: tt: th: tg: tr:Falkland Adalar uk: ur: ug: vi:Qu n o Falkland zh-classical: war:Kapuropud-an Falkland wo:Dunu Falkland wuu: yo:Falkland Islands zh-yue: bat-smg:Malv nu salas zh:

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