Facts about Falkland Islands

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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.

Geography of the Falkland Islands

Location:
Southern South America, islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, east of southern Argentina
Coordinates:
51 45 S, 59 00 W
Area:
total: 12,173 sq km
note: includes the two main islands of East and West Falkland and about 200 small islands
water: 0 sq km
land: 12,173 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
1,288 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 NM
exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate:
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
Terrain:
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
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

Population of the Falkland Islands

Population:
3,140 (July 2008 est.)
Growth rate:
2.44%
Nationality:
noun: Falkland Islander(s)
adjective: Falkland Island
Ethnic groups:
British
Religions:
primarily Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Free Church, Evangelist Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Lutheran, Seventh-Day Adventist
Languages:
English

Government

Country name:
conventional short form: Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)
Dependency status:
overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina
Government type:
NA
Capital:
Stanley
Administrative divisions:
none (overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina)
Independence:
none (overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina)
National holiday:
Liberation Day, 14 June (1982)
Constitution:
3 October 1985; amended 1997 and 1998
Legal system:
English common law
Suffrage:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)
head of government: Governor Alan HUCKLE (since 25 August 2006); Chief Executive Dr. Tim THOROGOOD (since 3 January 2008)
cabinet: Executive Council; three members elected by the Legislative Council, two ex officio members (chief executive and the financial secretary), and the governor
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.
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (chief justice is a nonresident); Magistrates Court (senior magistrate presides over civil and criminal divisions); Court of Summary Jurisdiction.

Economy

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 help 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:
purchasing power parity - $25,000 (2002 est.)
Labor force:
1,100 (est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 95% (mostly sheepherding and fishing)
Unemployment:
full employment; labor shortage
Budget:
revenues: $66.2 million
expenditures: $67.9 million, including capital expenditures of $23.2 million (FY98 est.)
Industries:
fish and wool processing; tourism
Agriculture:
fodder and vegetable crops; sheep, dairy products
Exports:
wool, hides, meat
Export partners:
Spain 81.5%, US 6%, UK 4.5% (2005)
Imports:
fuel, food and drink, building materials, clothing
Import partners:
UK 72.5%, US 14.7%, Netherlands 8.3% (2005)
Currency:
Falkland pound (FKP)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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