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Although first sighted by an English navigator in 1592, the first landing (English) did not occur until almost a century later in 1690, and the first settlement (French) was not established until 1764. The colony was turned over to Spain two years later and the islands have since been the subject of a territorial dispute, first between Britain and Spain, then between Britain and Argentina. The UK asserted its claim to the islands by establishing a naval garrison there in 1833. Argentina invaded the islands on 2 April 1982. The British responded with an expeditionary force that landed seven weeks later and after fierce fighting forced Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982.

Southern South America, islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, east of southern Argentina
Geographic coordinates:
51 45 S, 59 00 W
Map references:
South America
total: 12,173 sq km
land: 12,173 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes the two main islands of East and West Falkland and about 200 small islands
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,288 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
cold marine; strong westerly winds, cloudy, humid; rain occurs on more than half of days in year; average annual rainfall is 24 inches in Stanley; occasional snow all year, except in January and February, but does not accumulate
rocky, hilly, mountainous with some boggy, undulating plains
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Usborne 705 m
Natural resources:
fish, squid, wildlife, calcified seaweed, sphagnum moss
Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (99% permanent pastures, 1% other) (2005)
Natural hazards:
strong winds persist throughout the year
Environment - current issues:
overfishing by unlicensed vessels is a problem; reindeer were introduced to the islands in 2001 for commercial reasons; this is the only commercial reindeer herd in the world unaffected by the Chornobyl disaster
Geography - note:

deeply indented coast provides good natural harbors; short growing season


2,967 (July 2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.44% (2006 est.)


noun: Falkland Islander(s)
adjective: Falkland Island

Ethnic groups:



primarily Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Free Church, Evangelist Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutheran, Seventh-Day Adventist



Country name:

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

Dependency status:

overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina



Administrative divisions:

none (overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina)


none (overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina)

National holiday:

Liberation Day, 14 June (1982)


3 October 1985; amended 1997 and 1998

Legal system:

English common law


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral Legislative Council (10 seats - two ex officio, eight elected by popular vote, members serve four-year terms); presided over by the governor
elections: last held 17 November 2005 (next to be held November 2009)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 8

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (chief justice is a nonresident); Magistrates Court (senior magistrate presides over civil and criminal divisions); Court of Summary Jurisdiction

Economy - overview:

The economy was formerly based on agriculture, mainly sheep farming, but today fishing contributes the bulk of economic activity. In 1987 the government began selling fishing licenses to foreign trawlers operating within the Falkland Islands' exclusive fishing zone. These license fees total more than $40 million per year, which goes to support the island's health, education, and welfare system. Squid accounts for 75% of the fish taken. Dairy farming supports domestic consumption; crops furnish winter fodder. Exports feature shipments of high-grade wool to the UK and the sale of postage stamps and coins. The islands are now self-financing except for defense. The British Geological Survey announced a 200-mile oil exploration zone around the islands in 1993, and early seismic surveys suggest substantial reserves capable of producing 500,000 barrels per day; to date, no exploitable site has been identified. An agreement between Argentina and the UK in 1995 seeks to defuse licensing and sovereignty conflicts that would dampen foreign interest in exploiting potential oil reserves. Tourism, especially eco-tourism, is increasing rapidly, with about 30,000 visitors in 2001. Another large source of income is interest paid on money the government has in the bank. The British military presence also provides a sizeable economic boost.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$75 million (2002 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$25,000 (2002 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 95%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Labor force:

1,100 (est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 95% (mostly sheepherding and fishing)
industry and services: 5%

Unemployment rate:

full employment; labor shortage (2001)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.6% (1998)


revenues: $66.2 million
expenditures: $67.9 million; including capital expenditures of $23.2 million (FY98/99 est.)

Agriculture - products:

fodder and vegetable crops; sheep, dairy products


fish and wool processing; tourism

Electricity - production:

22.23 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - production by source:

fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:

20.68 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

200 bbl/day (2003 est.)


$125 million (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities:

wool, hides, meat

Exports - partners:

Spain 77.4%, UK 9.4%, US 4.9% (2004)


$90 million (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities:

fuel, food and drink, building materials, clothing

Imports - partners:

UK 63.2%, Spain 30.3%, France 3.6% (2004)

Economic aid - recipient:

$0 (1997 est.)

Currency (code):

Falkland pound (FKP)

Currency code:


Fiscal year:

1 April - 31 March

Telephones - main lines in use:

2,400 (2002)

Telephone system:

general assessment: NA
domestic: government-operated radiotelephone and private VHF/CB radiotelephone networks provide effective service to almost all points on both islands
international: country code - 500; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) with links through London to other countries

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 1, FM 7, shortwave 0
note: British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) provides Radio 1 (FM) and Radio 2 (AM) service (2006)


1,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:

2 (British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) provides multi-channel satellite service to members of UK Forces as well as islanders)
note: cable television is available in Stanley (2006)


1,000 (1997)

Internet hosts:

103 (2005)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):

2 (2000)

Internet users:

1,900 (2002)


5 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 3
under 914 m: 3 (2005)


total: 440 km
paved: 50 km
unpaved: 390 km (2003)

Ports and terminals:


Military branches:
no regular military forces
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the UK
Disputes - international:
Argentina, which claims the islands in its constitution and briefly occupied them by force in 1982, agreed in 1995 to no longer seek settlement by force; UK continues to reject Argentine requests for sovereignty talks