Falkland Islands, also called Malvinas Islands or Spanish Islas Malvinas, internally self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the South Atlantic Ocean.
It lies about 300 miles northeast of the southern tip of South America and a similar distance east of theStrait of Magellan.
The capital and major town is Stanley, on East Falkland, there are also several scattered small settlements as well as a Royal Air Force base that is located at Mount Pleasant.
The two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, and about 200 smaller islands. The government of the Falkland Islands also administers the British overseas territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, including the Shag and Clerke rocks.
History of the Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands have always been colonized and conquered by Britain, France, Spain, and Argentina since the 18th century. The islands were unoccupied until the 1700s, when France established a colony in 1764. When the British came the following year to claim the islands for themselves, it marked the beginning of a long-running struggle.
The British, in 1765, were the first to settle West Falkland, but they were driven off in 1770 by the Spanish, who had bought out the French settlement about 1767.
The British outpost on West Falkland was restored in 1771 after threat of war, but then the British withdrew from the island in 1774 for economic reasons, without renouncing their claim to the Falklands.
Spain maintained a settlement on East Falkland (which it called Soledad Island) until 1811.
In 1820 the Argentina Government, which had declared its independence from Spain in 1816, proclaimed its sovereignty over the Falklands.
In 1831 the US warship destroyed the Argentine settlement on East Falkland in reprisal for the arrest of three US ships that had been hunting seals in the area.
In early 1833, a British force expelled the few remaining Argentine officials from the island without firing a shot.
In 1841, a British civilian lieutenant governor was appointed for the Falklands, and by 1885 a British community of some 1,800 people on the islands was self-supporting.
Argentina regularly protested Britain’s occupation of the islands.
After World War II (1939-45) the issue of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands shifted to the United Nations (UN) when, in 1964, the islands’ status was debated by the UN committee on decolonization.
In 1965, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution inviting Britain and Argentina to hold discussions to find a peaceful solution to the dispute.
These protracted discussions were still proceeding in February 1982, but in April Argentina’s military government invaded the Falklands.
This act started the Falkland Islands War, which ended 10 weeks later with the surrender of the Argentine forces at Stanley to British troops who had forcibly reoccupied the islands.
Although Britain and Argentina reestablished full diplomatic relations in 1990, the issue of sovereignty remained a point of contention.
In the early 21st century Britain continued to maintain some 2,000 troops on the islands.
In January 2009 a new constitution came into effect that strengthened the Falklands’ local democratic government and reserved for the islanders their right to determine the territory’s political status.
In a referendum held in March 2013, islanders voted nearly unanimously to remain a British overseas territory.
The Ground of the Island’s Various Claims
Argentina: Its claim to the Falklands was based on an official paper from 1493, which was amended by the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494, which split the New World between Spain and Portugal; succession from Spain; the islands’ proximity to South America; and the necessity to end a colonial status.
United Kingdom: Its claim was based on its “open, continuous, effective control, occupancy, and administration” of these islands from 1833, as well as its intention to apply the United Nations Charter’s principle of self-determination to the people living on these islands. It further claimed that, rather than ending a colonial condition, the Argentine administration and rule of the Falk landers’ lives without their will would create one.
China recently issued a statement confirming its support for Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands, which Britain rejected.
China and Argentina had recently published a joint statement. China “reaffirms its support for Argentina’s quest for complete sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands (Falkland Islands),” adopting the Argentine name for the territory.
Britain rejected a statement from China that affirmed it’s support for Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands.