Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas Facts


Population: 2,967 (July 2004)
Nationality: Falkland Islander(s)
Ethnic Groups: Caucasion
Religions: primarily Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Free Church, Evangelist Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutheran, Seventh-Day Adventist
Languages: English
Currency: Falkland Pound (FLP)
Exchange Rate: Falkland pounds per US dollar – 0.6125 (2003), 0.6661 (2002), 0.6944 (2001), 0.6596 (2000), 0.618 (1999), 0.6037 (1998); note – the Falkland pound is at par with the British pound

National Holiday: Liberation day June 14, 1982
No Independence Day because it is an overseas territory of the UK and also claimed by Argentina
Chief of Staff: Queen Elizabeth II

Historical Background:  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: There is a total area of 12,173 sq km (7,563 sq mi) divided in the two main islands and about 200 small islands
Climate: Cold Marine climate with strong westerly winds, cloudy and humid.  There is rainfall more than half the year, with an average rainfall around 24 inches in Stanley.  Occasional snow all year except in January and February that does not accumulate.
Natural Hazards: strong winds persist all year
Environmental 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

Economic Overview: 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 Falklands exclusive fishing zone. These license fees total more than $40 million per year, which goes to 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 Per Capita: $25,000
Unemployment: Full Employment – labor shortage as of 2001
Agricultural Products: Fodder and Vegetable crops; Sheep, dairy products
Industries: Fish and wool processing; tourism
Exports: Wool, hides, meat
Export Partners: Spain, UK, US
Import Commodities: Fuel, food and drink, building materials, clothing
Airports: 5 (2 are paved and 3 are unpaved)

International Disputes: claimed by Argentina whose forces briefly occupied it in 1982, but now declares it will no longer seek settlement by force; UK continues to reject Argentine requests for sovereignty talks.