The Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean were discovered by the British in the 17th century, and given their first government by London early in the 19th. The islands are an important centre for farming and trade, a haven for extraordinary wildlife, and British to the core.
IN 1690, a British expedition landed on a group of islands in the South Atlantic, and named the narrow strait that lies between the two largest of them after the Treasurer to the Navy, Lord Falkland.
French colonists came to East Falkland in 1764, naming the archipelago ‘Îles Malouines’, after St Malo in Brittany;* a British town sprang up on West Falkland the following year.
The Spanish pressured the French into relinquishing their township in 1767, and three years later launched a full-scale invasion from Buenos Aires. Lord North’s government responded by sending the Royal Navy to liberate the British islanders, and in 1833 London organised the islands’ first unitary government. Seven years later, the islands became a Crown Colony.
In 1982, Argentina’s military junta invaded the islands once again, but Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came to the islanders’ defence with a task force of a hundred and twenty-seven ships.
In March 2013, 99.8% of the population voted to remain a British Overseas Territory.
* The French name for the islands, Îles Malouines, gives rise to the Spanish name, Malvinas. St Malo was a Welsh saint (520-621) who spread the gospel in Brittany and was bishop of Saint-Servan.