Falkland Islands (Falkland Islands)
Controversy exists over the Falklands' discovery and subsequent colonisation by Europeans. At various times the islands have had French, British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements. Britain reasserted its rule in 1833, but Argentina maintains its claim to the islands. In April 1982, Argentine military forces invaded the islands. British administration was restored two months later at the end of the Falklands War. In a 2013 sovereignty referendum almost all Falklanders voted in favour of remaining a UK overseas territory. The territory's sovereignty status is part of an ongoing dispute between Argentina and the UK.
The population (3,662 inhabitants in 2021) is primarily native-born Falkland Islanders, the majority of British descent. Other ethnicities include French, Gibraltarians, and Scandinavians. Immigration from the United Kingdom, the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena, and Chile has reversed a population decline. The predominant (and official) language is English. Under the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983, Falkland Islanders are British citizens.
The islands lie at the boundary of the subantarctic oceanic and tundra climate zones, and both major islands have mountain ranges reaching 700 m. They are home to large bird populations, although many no longer breed on the main islands due to predation by introduced species. Major economic activities include fishing, tourism and sheep farming, with an emphasis on high-quality wool exports. Oil exploration, licensed by the Falkland Islands Government, remains controversial as a result of maritime disputes with Argentina.
The name "Falkland Islands" comes from Falkland Sound, the strait that separates the two main islands. The name "Falkland" was applied to the channel by John Strong, captain of an English expedition that landed on the islands in 1690. Strong named the strait in honour of Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland, the Treasurer of the Navy who sponsored his journey. The Viscount's title originates from the town of Falkland, Scotland—the town's name probably comes from a Gaelic term referring to an "enclosure" (lann), but it could less plausibly be from the Anglo-Saxon term "folkland" (land held by folk-right). The name "Falklands" was not applied to the islands until 1765, when British captain John Byron of the Royal Navy claimed them for King George III as "Falkland's Islands". The term "Falklands" is a standard abbreviation used to refer to the islands.
The common Spanish name for the archipelago, Islas Malvinas, derives from the French Îles Malouines—the name given to the islands by French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville in 1764. Bougainville, who founded the islands' first settlement, named the area after the port of Saint-Malo (the point of departure for his ships and colonists). The port, located in the Brittany region of western France, was named after St. Malo (or Maclou), the Christian evangelist who founded the city.
In 1965, at the 20th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Fourth Committee determined that, in all languages other than Spanish, all UN documentation would designate the territory as Falkland Islands (Malvinas). In Spanish the territory was designated as Islas Malvinas (Falkland Islands). The nomenclature used by the United Nations for statistical processing purposes is Falkland Islands (Malvinas).