Falkland Islands profile

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Map of Falkland Islands

The isolated and sparsely-populated Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory in the south-west Atlantic Ocean, remain the subject of a sovereignty dispute between Britain and Argentina, who waged a brief but bitter war over the territory in 1982.

Argentine forces, who had landed on the Falklands to stake a territorial claim, were ejected by a British military task force.

Argentina says it has a right to the islands, which it calls the Malvinas, because it inherited them from the Spanish crown in the early 1800s. It has also based its claim on the islands' proximity to the South American mainland.

Britain rests its case on its long-term administration of the Falklands and on the principle of self-determination for the islanders, who are almost all of British descent.

The windswept and almost-treeless territory is made up of two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, as well as hundreds of smaller islands and islets.


  • Capital: Stanley
  • Area: 12,173 sq km
  • Languages: English
  • Population: 3,600
  • Life expectancy: 75 years (men) 79 years (women)


Head of state: King Charles III, represented by a governor

The islands are self-governing, although foreign affairs and defence matters are handled by the British government.

There is no party-political activity on the islands.

A new constitution to enhance the powers of the Executive Council came into force on 1 January 2009.

Image source, Getty Images


Coverage of local affairs is provided by a radio station and by the territory's sole newspaper, Penguin News.


Some key dates in the history of the Falklands:

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The wreck of the Lady Elizabeth, built in the 1800s, has been a feature of the islands for a century

1690 - English captain makes first recorded landing on Falklands.

1764 - First settlement founded on East Falkland by French navigator.

1765 - British settle West Falkland. They are driven off by the Spanish in 1770 but return in 1771, only to withdraw again in 1774.

1820 - Independent Argentina proclaims sovereignty over the Falklands.

1831 - US warship destroys Argentine settlement in reprisal for the arrest of three US vessels hunting seals.

1833 - British force expels remaining Argentine officials from the island and installs a governor. Argentina continually protests against British occupation.

1965 - UN resolution invites Britain and Argentina to discuss ways of finding a peaceful solution to their dispute.

1982 - Argentina invades, prompting Falklands War.

1990 - Argentina and Britain restore diplomatic relations, severed in 1982.

2013 - Islanders vote to remain a British overseas territory.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
British troops, pictured landing on the Falklands, ejected the Argentine invaders after a 72-day conflict

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