Useful Notes: The Falkland Islands

"Oh, we need the Falkland Islands... for strategic sheep purposes!"
Eddie Izzard

"Two shitty Islands, full of penguins!"
Julio Cortázar

Frozen rocks, penguins, and land mines... Always a winning combination, isn't it? ...Don't answer that. Anyway:

The Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas in Spanish) are a British overseas territory, located just off South America. It has a population of only 3,000, making it one of the smallest of the British overseas territories and one of the most sparsely populated places in the world.

It's most famous for The Falklands War, although there was also a notable naval battle there at the beginning of World War I. The Falklands War significantly increased the fame (or notoriety) of the Exocet anti-ship missile. The British won, and have spent the following 30 or so years gloating about it. The Argentines lost, claim international bullying, and bring it up and make threatening noises, to which the British recently responded to by sending their newest destroyer to patrol around the islands. The rest of the international community mostly ignores it, the US having decided that it wasn't their problem and Argentina not being important enough to interest China or Russia, except for Spain, which also has a bone to pick with Britain (and funnily enough, that same destroyer spent some time in Gibraltar too...)

Who settled the island first (there are no natives) is a vexed question, as numerous theoretical claims overlapped and everyone tried to act on them at about the same time: Britain? Spain? France? USA? Argentina? The Argentines want the islands, or wanted them (there is dispute about whether the military junta which went to war for them fell because of the war, or because they lost). But the fact on the ground is that the people on the islands are British citizens (and voted overwhelmingly to remain as such) and the islands are currently under British control, and the residents seem to be happy with that arrangement. Anyone in the UK who suggests that the islands ought to be given to the Argentines tends to be shouted down very fast, very loudly, and with no great politeness. Holding the opposite opinion yields the same results in Argentina (In fact, even referring to them as the Falklands is very much a Berserk Button).

The place has penguins and some land mines left from the war. Since penguins aren't heavy enough to set the mines off, they can wander the beaches that humans can't. There has been a massive effort to remove many of these mines — specifically just outside Stanley.

In 2010, a British company found oil. Predictably, this has started the argument up again.note  However, the first attempt to find it proved disappointing and the first results poor. Hearts sank a little around the Islands, though there are still apparently a few other prospective, hopeful dig sites.

There seems to be the impression that the Islands are chock full of millionaires. While there are two or three of them kicking around the place, Islanders are, on a whole, not nearly as rich as the assumption and implication seems to be. Millionaires or idiots, anyway.

Most of the Islands' income relies quite heavily on fishing — getting many Jiggers from abroad (Korea, Japan, etc...) — and tourism — because somehow, everything really is better with penguins. Though that isn't the only wildlife people travel to see: There are albatross, sea lions, and more (including an endemic species of fox/canine, but that one is sadly long extinct). And there are some truly beautiful sights both on the East and West Islands.

FICS (Falkland Island Community School) and the Junior School are both modelled quite heavily on UK school systems; however, the year (vacation, breaks and the like) is swapped, as Falklands is in summer when the UK is in winter. Teachers (like other workers in many Departments around the Island) are often brought down on contract from the UK.

If Falkland students wish to go to college (and maybe then onto University) they take the standard GCSE tests, and if they have a suitable amount of points (A* = five points, A = four points, etc.) the Government will pay for them to be sent to the UK — usually to Chichester or Winchester — to study their chosen subjects.

Healthcare is free, but the hospital equipment is far more limited than most anywhere abroad, so it's not rare that someone will be sent either to Santiago or the UK for medical attention.

When oil was discovered in Queen Elizabeth Land (yes, honestlynote ), situated in Antarctica, the Argentines and Chileans laid claim to it. They also don't like the name.

Appearances in fiction:

  • Many works related to The Falklands War.
  • Spitting Image began in 1983 after the war, but commonly used the Falklands as a setting whenever Thatcher wanted someone Reassigned to Antarctica.
  • A full chapter of Lovecraft-themed Point-and-Click Prisoner of Ice is set on a British naval base on the Falklands. It doesn't involve the war against Argentina, as the action is set in 1937.
  • Helmholtz, from Brave New World, hated the sweet perfection of the world, and asked to be released to some place with a harsh climate. He was sent to the Falklands.
  • Fuckland (aka F***land), a 2000 Dogme 95 film that centers on an Argentinian man's attempt to start a "sexual invasion" by seducing and impregnating a Falklander woman during a week-long stay there.

The Falkland Islander flag
The flag uses the standard design of British colonies: the Union Flag on the canton, superimposed on a blue field. At the right half is the coat-of-arms. The upper half of the shield shows a sheep, the island's principal livestock, standing over blades of the endemic tussock grass; the lower half shows the ship Desire, with which Captain John Davis supposedly discovered the islands. Below the shield is a scroll which reads "Desire the Right".

Alternative Title(s):

Islas Malvinas, Falkland Islands, British Frozen Rocks With Penguins And Landmines