Clustered 300 miles out in the South Atlantic some 480 miles northeast of Cape Horn, the 200 little Falkland Islands are also known by the Spanish name of Islas Malvinas. Their unspoilt shores, rolling moorland and low hills reminiscent of the Hebrides - are home to less than 3000 people, over half a million sheep and much fascinating wildlife, including seals, penguins and shorebirds. Port Stanley, the waterfront capital on East Falkland, is the only sizeable community. The archipelago consists of two main Islands (East and West Falkland) and 778 smaller islands, with a total land area of approximately 4,700 sq. miles. (12,173 sq. km), roughly the size of Connecticut in the USA or just over half the size of Wales in the UK.
The distance from Stanley, on the extreme east, to New Island, on the extreme west, is some 148 miles (238 km). The Islands are generally hilly, with the highest points at Mount Usborne, 2,312 ft (705 m.) on East Falkland and at Mount Adam, 2,297 ft (700 m.) on West Falkland. Smaller islands surround the main two. They include Barren Island, Beaver Island, Bleaker Island, Carcass Island, George Island, Keppel Island, Lively Island, New Island, Pebble Island, Saunders Island, Sealion IslandSealion Island, Speedwell Island, Staats Island, Weddell Island, West Point Island. The Jason Islands lie to the north west of the main archipelago, and Beauchene Island some distance to its south. Speedwell Island and George Island are split from East Falkland by Engle Passage. Westerly-facing sheer cliffs, sheltered coves and great hiking mark the Beaver Island group, which features the Patagonian fox and reindeer among its wildlife. Many of the islands are nature reserves, and home to more than 40 of the Falklandsí breeding bird species.
The Englishman Strong arrived in the islands in 1690 and named the Falkland Sound after a British peer. Later this name was applied to the entire group. Seventeenth century seafarers from St. Malo gave the islands their French appellation, Iles Malouines, which in turn became the Spanish Islas Malvinas. In 1764 France established a small colony, which it sold two years later to Spain. The Spanish established a military garrison and a penal colony. When the British built an outpost at Port Egmont and the Spanish expelled their occupants, it brought Spain and England to the brink of war. Although the British were reinstated in 1771, they withdrew from the islands a few years later. In 1806, at the start of the South American wars of independence, the Spanish abandoned what is now Port Louis. Then the United Provinces of the River Plate (later part of Argentina) raised their flag here in 1820. This prompted the arrival of British warships in 1833 that expelled a token Buenos Aires force. Years of stability followed, lasting until April 1982 when Argentina invaded and occupied the islands. Britain mounted a counter-invasion and recaptured the Falklands by June of that year.
The following 13 cruises call at Falkland Islands.
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