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 an Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982. With hostilities ended and Argentine forces withdrawn, UK administration resumed. In response to renewed calls from Argentina for Britain to relinquish control of the islands, a referendum was held in March 2013, which resulted in 99.8% of the population voting to remain a part of the UK.



Southern South America, islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, about 500 km east of southern Argentina

Geographic coordinates

51 45 S, 59 00 W

Map references

South America


total: 12,173 sq km
land: 12,173 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes the two main islands of East and West Falkland and about 200 small islands

Area - comparative

slightly smaller than Connecticut

Land boundaries

0 km


1,288 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm


cold marine; strong westerly winds, cloudy, humid; rain occurs on more than half of days in year; average annual rainfall is 60 cm in Stanley; occasional snow all year, except in January and February, but typically does not accumulate


rocky, hilly, mountainous with some boggy, undulating plains


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Usborne 705 m

Natural resources

fish, squid, wildlife, calcified seaweed, sphagnum moss

Land use

agricultural land: 92.4%
arable land 0%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 92.4%
forest: 0%
other: 7.6% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land


Natural hazards

strong winds persist throughout the year

Environment - current issues

overfishing by unlicensed vessels is a problem; reindeer - introduced to the islands in 2001 from South Georgia - are part of a farming effort to produce specialty meat and diversify the islands' economy; this is the only commercial reindeer herd in the world unaffected by the 1986 Chornobyl disaster

Geography - note

deeply indented coast provides good natural harbors; short growing season

People and Society

Ethnic groups

Falkland Islander 57%, British 24.6%, St. Helenian 9.8%, Chilean 5.3%, other 3.4% (2012 est.)


2,931 (2014 est.)


noun: Falkland Islander(s)
adjective: Falkland Island


English 89%, Spanish 7.7%, other 3.3% (2006 est.)


Christian 66%, none 32%, other 2% (2012 est.)

Population growth rate

0.01% (2014 est.)

Birth rate

10.9 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate

4.9 deaths/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Net migration rate


Population distribution

a very small population, with most residents living in and around Stanley


urban population: 76.2% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.96% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

STANLEY (capital) 2,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

total population: 1.11 male(s)/female
note: sex ratio is somewhat skewed by the high proportion of males at the Royal Air Force station, Mount Pleasant Airport (MPA); excluding MPA, the sex ratio of the total population would be 1.01 (2012 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: NA
male: NA
female: NA

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 77.9
male: 75.6
female: 79.6 (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate


HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths



Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)
etymology: the archipelago takes its name from the Falkland Sound, the strait separating the two main islands; the channel itself was named after the Viscount of Falkland who sponsored an expedition to the islands in 1690; the Spanish name for the archipelago derives from the French "Iles Malouines," the name applied to the islands by French explorer Louis-Antoine de BOUGAINVILLE in 1764

Dependency status

overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Legislative Assembly); self-governing overseas territory of the UK


name: Stanley
geographic coordinates: 51 42 S, 57 51 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

none (overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina)


none (overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina)

National holiday

Liberation Day, 14 June (1982)


previous 1985; latest entered into force 1 January 2009 (2016)

Legal system

English common law and local statutes


see United Kingdom


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); represented by Governor Colin ROBERTS (since 28 April 2014)
head of government: Chief Executive Keith PADGETT (since 1 February 2012)
cabinet: Executive Council elected by the Legislative Council
elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch; chief executive appointed by the governor

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Legislative Assembly, formerly the Legislative Council (10 seats; 8 members directly elected by majority vote and 2 appointed ex officio members - the chief executive, appointed by the governor, and the financial secretary; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 7 November 2013 (next to be held in November 2017)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independent 8

Judicial branch

highest resident court(s): Court of Appeal (consists of the court president, the chief justice as an ex officio, non-resident member, and 2 justices of appeal); Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice); note - appeals beyond the Court of Appeal are referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (in London)
judge selection and term of office: all justices appointed by the governor; tenure specified in each justice's instrument of appointment
subordinate courts: Magistrate's Court (senior magistrate presides over civil and criminal divisions); Court of Summary Jurisdiction

Political parties and leaders

none; all independents

Political pressure groups and leaders

Falkland Islands Association (supports freedom of the people from external causes)

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

none (overseas territory of the UK)

Diplomatic representation from the US

none (overseas territory of the UK; also claimed by Argentina)

Flag description

blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Falkland Island coat of arms centered on the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms contains a white ram (sheep raising was once the major economic activity) above the sailing ship Desire (whose crew discovered the islands) with a scroll at the bottom bearing the motto DESIRE THE RIGHT

National symbol(s)


National anthem

name: "Song of the Falklands""
lyrics/music: Christopher LANHAM
note: adopted 1930s; the song is the local unofficial anthem; as a territory of the United Kingdom, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)


GDP (official exchange rate)

$164.5 million (2007 est.)

Economy - overview

The economy was formerly based on agriculture, mainly sheep farming, but fishing and tourism currently comprise the bulk of economic activity. In 1987, the government began selling fishing licenses to foreign trawlers operating within the Falkland Islands

Dairy farming supports domestic consumption; crops furnish winter fodder. Foreign exchange earnings come from shipments of high-grade wool to the UK and from the sale of postage stamps and coins. In 2001, the government purchased 100 reindeer with the int

Tourism, especially ecotourism, is increasing rapidly, with about 69,000 visitors in 2009. The British military presence also provides a sizable economic boost. The islands are now self-financing except for defense.

In 1993, the British Geological Survey announced a 200-mile oil exploration zone around the islands, and early seismic surveys suggest substantial reserves capable of producing 500,000 barrels per day. Political tensions between the UK and Argentina remai

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$164.5 million (2007 est.)
$105.1 million (2002 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$55,400 (2002 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 95%
industry: NA%
services: NA% (1996)

Agriculture - products

fodder and vegetable crops; venison, sheep, dairy products; fish, squid


fish and wool processing; tourism

Industrial production growth rate


Labor force

1,944 (2012 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 95% (mostly sheepherding and fishing)
industry and services: 5% (1996)

Unemployment rate

4.1% (2010)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $67.1 million
expenditures: $75.3 million (FY09/10)

Taxes and other revenues

40.8% of GDP (FY09/10)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-5% of GDP (FY09/10)

Fiscal year

1 April - 31 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.2% (2003)


$125 million (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities

wool, hides, meat, venison, fish, squid


$90 million (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities

fuel, food and drink, building materials, clothing

Debt - external


Exchange rates

Falkland pounds (FKP) per US dollar -
0.7391 (2016 est.)
0.6542 (2015 est.)
0.6542 (2013)
0.6391 (2013)
0.63 (2012)


Electricity - production

15 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

13.95 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

10,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

90% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

10% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

300 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

292 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

45,570 Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 68 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 5,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 171 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

domestic: government-operated radiotelephone and private VHF/CB radiotelephone networks provide effective service to almost all points on both islands
international: country code - 500; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) with links through London to other countries (2015)

Broadcast media

TV service provided by a multi-channel service provider; radio services provided by the public broadcaster, Falkland Islands Radio Service, broadcasting on both AM and FM frequencies, and by the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 3,000
percent of population: 98.3% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 5 (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

VP-F (2016)


7 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 5
under 914 m: 5 (2013)


total: 440 km
paved: 50 km
unpaved: 390 km (2008)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Stanley


Military branches

no regular military forces

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the UK

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Argentina, which claims the islands in its constitution and briefly occupied them by force in 1982, agreed in 1995 to no longer seek settlement by force; UK continues to reject Argentine requests for sovereignty talks