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Presentation of the Falkland Islands

Member state: United Kingdom
Surface area (km2): 12,173
Population: approximately 2500
Density (/km2): 0,25
Capital: Stanley

Location

The Falkland Islands are situated in the South Atlantic, some 650 kilometres from the South American mainland. The archipelago consists of two main Islands (East and West Falkland) and 778 smaller islands, with a total land area of approximately 12,000 square kilometers.

Topography

The countryside is generally hilly, comparatively bare of vegetation and trees but with unusual features including stone runs, “rivers” of angular quartzite boulders that “flow” from the hilltops. The main soil type is peat and the natural vegetation is grassland, with some species of heath and dwarf shrubs. There are no indigenous trees, although cultivated trees do grow. The highest mountains are Mount Usborne on East Falkland (at 705 metres) and Mount Adam on West Falkland (at 700 metres).

Climate & Environment

The temperature varies between a maximum of 24oC in January and a minimum of -5oC in July/August. Rainfall is generally low, winters are not as severe as in the UK, and the Islands enjoy more sunshine than the south of England. There is an abundant range of wildlife and plant life in the Falkland Islands, found in the many areas of unspoiled natural landscape.

Economic activities

The Islands have experienced significant growth in the economy over the last 25 years, in large part due to the declaration of a Fisheries Conservation and Management Zone in 1986 that provided a catalyst for the development of the fishing industry that now makes up 60% of GDP. Tourism and agriculture are also important economic activities and continued efforts are being made to derive greater value from these sectors (see in-focus section). Recent oil exploration activities have also provided a boost to the local economy.

Political and administrative status

The Falkland Islands are a British Overseas Territory. The UK is committed to the sovereignty of the Islands and supports the islanders’ right to self-determination. A new Constitution was brought into effect in 2009, giving the local population the right to govern itself in all areas apart from defence and foreign affairs.

Focus

Falkland Islands: Promoting sustainable development in the agricultural sector

With the budgetary support received through EDF 9, the Falkland Islands continued its work to diversify the Camp (countryside) economy away from a dependence on wool incomes to engaging in new activities such as meat production. Previously, the key agricultural focus in the Islands had been wool production, with meat a secondary focus sourced from older animals. However, over the past two decades demand for strong wool and mutton has been in decline globally.

Consequently, the Islands have been pursuing genetic and pasture improvement programmes since the early 1990s in order to develop and support dual purpose (wool and meat) sheep breeds, and to reduce wool fibre diameter (micron) and increase productivity through increasing reproductive rates and decreasing mortality, enabling quantities of lamb as well as mutton to be exported. The response to genetic improvement has been marked, with a 2 micron reduction over 5 years (24.7 in 2010/11). Transformed across the FI wool clip this was worth an additional £1.93m in 2010/11. Additionally, due to decreased wool values between 1992 and 2007, STABEX funds were used to support the development of rural infrastructure which included a renewable energy scheme to install wind turbines on farms in order to reduce agricultural cost overheads.