Falkland Islands

Learn about the history, geography, government, and culture of the Falkland Islands. This country profile includes information about British occupation and conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina.
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Map of Falkan Islands
Map of Falkland Islands

Status: Overseas territory

Governor: Howard Pearce (2002)

Chief Executive: A. M. Gurr

Total area: 4,700 sq mi (12,173 sq km)

Population (July 2006 est.): 2,967

Capital (2003 est.): Stanley (on East Falkland), 2,100

Monetary unit: Falkland Island pound

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2002 est.): $75 million; per capita $25,000. Real growth rate: n.a. Inflation: 3.6% (1998). Unemployment: full employment; labor shortage (2001). Arable land: 0%. Agriculture: fodder and vegetable crops; sheep, dairy products. Labor force: 1,100 (est.); agriculture 95% (mostly sheepherding and fishing). Industries: fish and wool processing; tourism. Natural resources: fish, squid, wildlife, calcified seaweed, sphagnum moss. Exports: $125 million (2004 est.): wool, hides, meat. Imports: $90 million (2004 est.): fuel, food and drink, building materials, clothing. Major trading partners: Spain, UK, U.S., France (2004).

This sparsely inhabited dependency consists of a group of islands in the South Atlantic, about 250 mi (402 km) east of the South American mainland. The largest islands are East Falkland and West Falkland. The English captain John Strong made the first recorded landing in the Falklands in 1690. The islands passed among the French, Spanish, and British until 1820, when the Argentine government proclaimed its sovereignty. In 1833 a British force expelled the few remaining Argentine officials from the island without firing a shot, and in 1841 a British civilian lieutenant-governor was appointed for the Falklands. Colonial status was granted to the Falklands in 1892. Argentina, calling the islands Las Islas Malvinas, regularly protested Britain's occupation of the islands. On April 2, 1982, Argentina's military government invaded the Falklands. The Falkland Islands war ended ten weeks later with the surrender of the Argentine forces at Stanley to British troops, who had forcibly reoccupied the islands. Argentina still claims the islands. But an agreement between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1995 sought to defuse licensing and sovereignty conflicts that would dampen foreign interest in exploiting the Falkland Islands' potential oil reserves.


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