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  The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic continental shelf consisting of two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, and a number of smaller islands. The Falkland Islands are located at 51°45′00″S, 059°10′00″W. The Falkland Islands are a largely self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom but are claimed by Argentina to be part of its national territory. Stanley is the capital and largest city, on East Falkland.

The sovereignty of the Falkland Islands has been disputed since their discovery, with France, Spain, Argentina and the United Kingdom all claiming possession after establishing settlements on the islands. The French and Spanish claims have long been abandoned, but Argentina maintains a claim over the islands, which they call Islas Malvinas, and other territories in the South Atlantic currently under British dominion. The sovereignty dispute was the source of the 1982 Falklands War, in which the islands were invaded and briefly occupied by Argentina. The United Kingdom dispatched a task force to the Islands and, after a month-long war, the Argentine Forces surrendered and the islands returned to British control. The sovereignty of the islands remains disputed, but the majority of islanders themselves wish to remain British.


Map of the Falkland IslandsThe islands are 300 miles (483 km) from the South American mainland. There are two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland and about 700 small islands. The total land area is 12,173 km², approximately the same area as Connecticut or Northern Ireland, and a coastline estimated at 1,288 km.

Much of the land is part of the two main islands separated by the Falkland Sound: East Falkland, home to the capital of Stanley and the majority of the population, and West Falkland. Both islands have mountain ranges, rising to 705 m at Mount Usborne on East Falkland. There are also some boggy plains, most notably Lafonia, the southern half of East Falkland. Virtually the entire area of the islands is used as pasture for sheep.

Smaller islands surround the main two. They include Barren Island, Beaver Island, Bleaker Island, Carcass Island, George Island, Keppel Island, Lively Island, New Island, Pebble Island, Saunders Island, Sealion Island, Speedwell Island, Staats Island, Weddell Island, West Point Island. The Jason Islands lie to the north west of the main archipelago, and Beauchene Island some distance to its south. Speedwell Island and George Island are split from East Falkland by Engle Passage.

The islands claim a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles (22 km) and an exclusive fishing zone of 200 nautical miles (370 km), which has been a source of conflict with Argentina.

The Falkland Islands have a cold marine climate with strong westerly winds. It is generally cloudy and humid; rain occurs on more than half the days in a typical year. Snow is rare, but can occur at almost any time of year. Islanders themselves talk about two main areas of the islands, namely Stanley and the rest, which they call "the Camp", from the Spanish campo ("countryside").

Main article: Economy of the Falkland Islands
The largest industries are fishing and agriculture. The islands have oil reserves that are believed to be quite substantial, but have yet to be exploited. The climatic conditions of the southern seas mean that the economic viability of any exploitation is poor. The continuing sovereignty dispute with Argentina also hampers exploration possibilities. Since the 1982 war, expenditure by the British military forms a major part of the island's economy.

The largest company in the islands is the Falkland Islands Company, a publicly quoted company on the London Stock Exchange and responsible for the majority of the economic activity on the islands.

The currency in use is the Falkland Pound, which remains in parity with Pounds Sterling. The Falkland Islands also mint their own coins, and issue stamps which forms a source of revenue from overseas collectors.

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
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
1,288 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 NM
exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
cold marine; strong westerly winds, cloudy, humid; rain occurs on more than half of days in year; 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
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
Falkland pound (FKP)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Falkland pounds per US dollar - 0.6981 (January 2002), 0.6944 (2001), 0.6596 (2000), 0.6180 (1999), 0.6037 (1998), 0.6106 (1997); note - the Falkland pound is at par with the British pound

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