Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)
The Falkland Islands, called also Malvinas Islands, are a remote archipelago located in the southern Atlantic Ocean, about 480 kilometers east of Patagonia, not far from the southernmost tip of South America. The archipelago consists of 200 islands, two of which are substantially larger than the others. These are the islands of East and West Falkland. The total area of the archipelago is relatively large, amounting to about 12,173 square kilometers, while the population is only 2932 people (in 2012).
This makes the Falklands one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world. At the same time, the local population is very unevenly distributed.
Most local residents (or just over ⅔) live in the biggest economic center of the islands – the capital Port Stanley.
The archipelago enjoys a high standard of living, and the most important economic sectors are agriculture and fishing. The main exports are fish, sheepskin and wool.
The primary reason for the extremely low population density of the Falkland Islands is the cool climate. The proximity of Antarctica clearly talks about what kind of weather you can expect here.
Although located in temperate latitudes, summers on the Falklands are quite short and cool with temperatures up to about 15°C. Winters are long and moderately cold with an average temperature between (-5) and 4°C.
During most of the year the weather is cloudy, and clear and sunny days are rare. The snowfall season is very long and can last from March to December or nearly ten months a year.
However, the relatively mild winter temperatures, insignificant precipitations and traditionally strong winds are not conducive for the formation of significant snow cover.
The landscape of the Falkland Islands is rounded and hilly, with mild forms. There are no high mountains, and the highest point of the island, Mount Usborne, rises only 705 meters above sea level.
The islands are mostly covered by steppe vegetation, with almost no trees. The coastline is heavily indented with numerous small and large bays and peninsulas.
At some places along the coast have formed long, deserted beaches where lounging seals and sea elephant relax in the company of large and noisy colonies of penguins.
Though remote, sparsely populated and raw, the Falkland Islands are the subject of a territorial dispute between Britain and Argentina.
In April 1982, the dispute even increased into a 10-day military conflict between the countries. Today the archipelago is a British Overseas Territory, the official language is English, and most locals are of British descent.
However, because of the close proximity of the islands to the coast of South America and the fact that during the period 1816 – 1833 they were part of the South American country, Argentina today still has territorial claims to the Falkland Islands.