Falkland Islands, British archipelago in the southwest Atlantic; 12 173 km2, 2 900 residents (2018).The islands are located approximately 600 km northeast of South America’s southernmost headland, Cape Horn. They consist of Western and Eastern Falkland and about 200 small islands. The Falkland Islands constitute a British overseas territory.
Terrain shapes and bedrock
Geologically, the Falkland Islands are part of the South American continental shelf. The oldest bedrock consists of gneiss and is visible at the far south-west. The following Paleozoic sedimentary rocks are interesting because of their land-bearing devon layers and by the presence of perm (carbonated moraine) from perm-carbon, which proves that the islands were then iced at the same time as South America and South Africa. The Falkland Islands are known for large peat deposits as well as stone streams. The islands have broken coasts and several fjords. Beach terraces along the mountain sides gossip about the islands’ rapid rise from the sea.
The climate is chilly and rainy with frequent storms. The average annual rainfall is 635 mm and the average annual temperature is 5 °C.
Flora and fauna
The islands are mainly covered by grasslands and marshes. Domestic trees are completely missing. The flora comprises about 180 species of veneerogams, of which 10% are endemic. Not a single well-defined genus is endemic, which clearly reflects Flora’s close relationship with that of Patagonia.
Falkland fox ( Dusiʹcyon austraʹlis ) was the only native land mammal, as well as endemic; the last specimen was killed in 1876. Southern sea elephant ( Mirouʹnga leoniʹna ), male seal and South American fur seal ( Arctoceʹphalus austraʹlis ) propagate along the coasts. Nearly 190 bird species have been observed, of which just under 70 are nesting. five species of penguins, black-brown albatross and many other storm birds. A bird species, the avian short-winged steamboat sand ( Tachyeʹres brachyʹpterus ), is endemic. Domestic freshwater fish, amphibians and reptiles are completely missing.
The rich fish and octopus stocks in the waters near the Falkland Islands have been the subject of extensive fishing of fishing fleets since the 1970s. Poland and the Soviet Union. Some stocks have been hard pressed.
Population and business
The islanders are of British descent. Sheep management is the completely dominant industry; there are hundreds of thousands of sheep on the islands. Other occupations are concentrated in the main city, Port Stanley in East Falkland, which, in addition to administrative functions, holds stations for British Antarctic Survey, for radio and space research and for telecommunications. Income tax, duties, stamp issuance and periodic support from the UK provide funding for public spending.
Seaplanes and cars provide internal communications. There are no regular air services abroad. Four times a year, Port Stanley is approached by a ship from the United Kingdom that carries supplies and carries back wool.
The Falkland Islands were screened by various seafarers during the 16th and 16th centuries. A British sea captain, John Strong, landed on the uninhabited islands in 1690 and named the strait between them after the Admiral’s treasurer, Viscount Falkland.
During the first half of the 18th century, the islands were regularly visited by French sales owners, who called them Îles Malouines after their hometown, Saint-Malo. In the 1760s, the French founded a colony on East Falkland and the British a colony on West Falkland. This provoked a strong reaction in Madrid, where it was believed that the islands – in Spanish called Las Malvinas – belonged to Spain ever since the Treaty of Portugal in Tordesilla’s 1494. The Spanish government bought out the French in 1767 and forcibly removed the British in 1770. When Britain threatened to return with war Spain 1771 Western Falkland to the British, who, however, abandoned the colony for financial reasons three years later. Due to the South American War of Independence, the Spanish colonists left East Falkland in 1811.
After the liberation from Spain, Argentina took over Spain’s claim to the then uninhabited islands and in 1826 established a colony there. A British warship forced the Argentinian colonists in 1833 and landed settlers. Since then, the islands have been part and parcel of the United Kingdom, and in 1892 the Falkland Islands were granted colonial status within the empire.
In 1982, the Falkland Islands were surprisingly occupied by Argentina but were withdrawn by Britain after the Falkland War that year. In 1985, a new constitution was established that gives the Falkland Islands some self-government.
On the Falkland Islands, on December 8, 1914, a naval battle was fought between a German squadron (two heavy and three light cruisers) under Vice-Admiral von Spee and a superior British force (two battle cruisers, three heavy and two light cruisers) under Vice-Maj. Sturdee. A month earlier, the Germans had won the sea battle at Coronel and mastered the waters. Four hours of uneven artillery fighting ended with German loss of all ships (except a light cruiser) and 2,300 men. The British avoided ship losses and won total sea rule in the South Atlantic.