Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

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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 an Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982. With hostilities ended and Argentine forces withdrawn, UK administration resumed. In response to renewed calls from Argentina for Britain to relinquish control of the islands, a referendum was held in March 2013, which resulted in 99.8% of the population voting to remain a part of the UK.



Southern South America, islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, about 500 km east of southern Argentina

Geographic coordinates

51.45° S, 59.00° W

Area 165/257

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

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Connecticut

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 60 cm in Stanley; occasional snow all year, except in January and February, but typically does not accumulate


rocky, hilly, mountainous with some boggy, undulating plains


mean elevation:

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

agricultural land: 92.4%

arable land 0%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 92.4%

forest: 0%

other: 7.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land


Natural hazards

strong winds persist throughout the year

Environment - current issues

overfishing by unlicensed vessels is a problem; reindeer - introduced to the islands in 2001 from South Georgia - are part of a farming effort to produce specialty meat and diversify the islands' economy; this is the only commercial reindeer herd in the world unaffected by the 1986 Chornobyl disaster

Geography - note

deeply indented coast provides good natural harbors; short growing season

People and Society


noun: Falkland Islander(s)

adjective: Falkland Island

Ethnic groups

Falkland Islander 57%, British 24.6%, St. Helenian 9.8%, Chilean 5.3%, other 3.4% (2012 est.)


English 89%, Spanish 7.7%, other 3.3% (2006 est.)


Christian 66%, none 32%, other 2% (2012 est.)

Population 230/238

2,931 (2014 est.)

Population growth rate 193/233

0.01% (2014 est.)

Birth rate

10.9 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate

4.9 deaths/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Net migration rate



urban population: 76.2% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 0.96% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

STANLEY (capital) 2,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

total population: 1.11 male(s)/female

note: sex ratio is somewhat skewed by the high proportion of males at the Royal Air Force station, Mount Pleasant Airport (MPA); excluding MPA, the sex ratio of the total population would be 1.01 (2012 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.9

male: 75.6

female: 79.6 (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate


HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths



Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

etymology: the archipelago takes its name from the Falkland Sound, the strait separating the two main islands; the channel itself was named after the Viscount of Falkland who sponsored an expedition to the islands in 1690; the Spanish name for the archipelago derives from the French "Iles Malouines," the name applied to the islands by French explorer Louis-Antoine de BOUGAINVILLE in 1764

Government type



name: Stanley

geographic coordinates: 51.42° S, 57.51° W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

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)


previous 1985; latest entered into force 1 January 2009 (2015)

Legal system

English common law and local statutes


see United Kingdom


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Colin ROBERTS (since 28 April 2014)

head of government: Chief Executive Keith PADGETT (since 1 February 2012)

cabinet: Executive Council elected by the Legislative Council

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; chief executive appointed by the governor

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislative Assembly, formerly the Legislative Council (10 seats; 8 members directly elected by majority vote and 2 appointed ex officio members - the chief executive, appointed by the governor, and the financial secretary; members serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 7 November 2013 (next to be held in November 2017)

election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 8

Judicial branch

highest resident court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the court president, the chief justice as an ex officio, non-resident member, and 2 justices of appeal); Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice); note - appeals beyond the Court of Appeal are referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)

judge selection and term of office: all justices appointed by the governor; tenure specified in each justice's instrument of appointment

subordinate courts: Magistrate's Court (senior magistrate presides over civil and criminal divisions); Court of Summary Jurisdiction

Political parties and leaders

none; all independents

Political pressure groups and leaders

Falkland Islands Association (supports freedom of the people from external causes)

International organization participation


Flag description

blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Falkland Island coat of arms centered on the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms contains a white ram (sheep raising was once the major economic activity) above the sailing ship Desire (whose crew discovered the islands) with a scroll at the bottom bearing the motto DESIRE THE RIGHT

National symbol(s)


National anthem

name: "Song of the Falklands""

lyrics/music: Christopher LANHAM

note: adopted 1930s; the song is the local unofficial anthem; as a territory of the United Kingdom, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)


Economy - overview

The economy was formerly based on agriculture, mainly sheep farming, but fishing and tourism currently comprise 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 net more than $40 million per year, which help support the island's health, education, and welfare system. The waters around the Falkland Islands are known for their squid, which account for around 75% of the annual 200,000 ton fish catch. Dairy farming supports domestic consumption; crops furnish winter fodder. Foreign exchange earnings come from shipments of high-grade wool to the UK and from the sale of postage stamps and coins. In 2001, the government purchased 100 reindeer with the intent to increase the number to 10,000 over the following 20 years so that venison could be exported to Scandinavia and Chile. Tourism, especially eco-tourism, is increasing rapidly, with about 69,000 visitors in 2009. The British military presence also provides a sizable economic boost. The islands are now self-financing except for defense. In 1993 the British Geological Survey announced a 200-mile oil exploration zone around the islands, and early seismic surveys suggest substantial reserves capable of producing 500,000 barrels per day. Political tensions between the UK and Argentina remain high following the start of oil drilling activities in the waters. In September 2011, a British exploration firm announced that it plans to commence oil production in 2016.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 223/230

$164.5 million (2007 est.)

$105.1 million (2002 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$164.5 million (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 20/230

$55,400 (2002 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 95%

industry: NA%

services: NA% (1996)

Agriculture - products

fodder and vegetable crops; venison, sheep, dairy products; fish, squid


fish and wool processing; tourism

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force 228/233

1,944 (2012 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 95% (mostly sheepherding and fishing)

industry and services: 5% (1996)

Unemployment rate 39/207

4.1% (2010)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $67.1 million

expenditures: $75.3 million (FY09/10)

Taxes and other revenues 39/219

40.8% of GDP (FY09/10)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 172/220

-5% of GDP (FY09/10)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 77/226

1.2% (2003)

Exports 192/224

$125 million (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities

wool, hides, meat, venison, fish, squid

Imports 217/223

$90 million (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities

fuel, food and drink, building materials, clothing

Debt - external

Exchange rates

Falkland pounds (FKP) per US dollar -

0.65 (2015)

0.64 (2013)

0.64 (2013)

0.63 (2012)

0.62 (2011)


Electricity - production 215/220

12 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 215/219

11.16 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 137/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 148/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 208/214

10,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 78/214

90% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 91/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 172/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 36/212

10% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 135/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 124/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 189/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 133/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 181/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 210/212

300 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 179/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 207/213

312.5 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 186/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 143/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 99/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 196/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 138/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 209/212

45,570 Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 214/219

total subscriptions: 2,100

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 66 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 216/217

total: 4,200

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 133 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

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 (2011)

Broadcast media

TV service provided by a multi-channel service provider; radio services provided by the public broadcaster, Falkland Islands Radio Service, broadcasting on both AM and FM frequencies, and by the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

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

Television broadcast stations

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

Internet country code


Internet hosts 206/232

110 (2012)

Internet users 209/217

total: 2,900

percent of population: 92.4% (2009)


Airports 170/236

7 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 5

under 914 m: 5 (2013)

Roadways 199/223

total: 440 km

paved: 50 km

unpaved: 390 km (2008)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Stanley

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular military forces

Transnational Issues

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