British Antarctic Territory
Falkland Islands locates about three hundred miles (480 kilometers) east of the Strait of Magellan, near the tip of South America. Rocky and treeless, they are swept by winds and pelted much of the year by cold rains. The islands, a British self-governing colony, are near the trade routes approaching the strait. The 200 islands of the group cover 4,618 square miles (11,961 square kilometers). The main islands are East Falkland, which is 90 miles (145 kilometers) by 55 miles (89 kilometers), and West Falkland, which is 80 miles (129 kilometers) by 45 miles (72 kilometers). The capital is Stanley, or Port Stanley, on East Falkland. A governor and executive and legislative councils rule the islands. Under their 1985 constitution, South Georgia, which has a small military garrison, and the uninhabited South Sandwich Islands ceased to be dependencies of the Falklands.
The islands are deeply indented with many anchorages. The landscape is treeless moorland, with deep peat deposits, and hills ranging across the northern parts of both islands, rising to the highest point, Mt Usborne (705m) in East Falkland, and Mt Adam (700m) in West Falkland.
The first sighting of the islands has been ascribed to various navigators, but the first known landing was by Captain John Strong in 1690, who named the islands after the then Treasurer of the Navy, Viscount Falkland. The first occupation was by the French in 1764 under Antoine-Louis de Bougainville, who established a small colony on East Falkland. This was sold to Spain, who governed most of South America at that time, in 1767. In 1765, the British had taken possession of West Falkland and, in the next year, established a colony on Saunders Island to the north of West Falkland. The Spanish compelled the British settlers to leave in 1770, bringing the two nations to the brink of war, but were persuaded to hand back the colony in 1771. Both the British and Spanish had left the islands by the early 19th Century.
In 1820, the Buenos Aires government, which had declared its independence of Spain in 1816, sent a ship to the islands to claim sovereignty, and a colony was once more established on East Falkland with Luis Vernet as Governor. In 1831, a US warship destroyed this settlement in reprisal for the arrest of three American sealing-vessels. In 1832 the Argentinians again attempted to settle a garrison but were evicted when the HMS Clio arrived. The British resumed occupation of the islands, which has been continuous since. The islands were given a governor in 1843. Grants-in-aid for the settlement were approved and continued until 1885, when the islands became self-supporting.
Argentina did not abandon its claim to the islands, and pursued this in UN talks from 1966 onwards, despite the islanders' overwhelming preference for retaining their association with Britain. During these years, links continued between the Falklands and Argentina, with air and sea communication, and facilities for education and medical care for the Falklanders. But, in April 1982, Argentine military forces invaded the islands and overwhelmed the British garrison. A British task force was dispatched and finally forced the Argentinians to surrender in June 1982, after the loss of some 1,000 British and Argentine lives. Since the election of the Menem government in Argentina in 1989, there has been a considerable rapprochement between the two countries. In 1990, diplomatic relations, broken off in 1982, were restored with Argentina, both sides in effect agreeing to disagree on sovereignty over the islands.
Cold marine; strong westerly winds, cloudy, humid; rain occurs on more than half of days in year; occasional snow all year, except in January and February, but does not accumulate.
Estimated 2,564 in 1996. The population has risen in the last few years (5.5% since 1991), probably owing to an increased interest in the islands after the 1982 War, increased aid, and some ex-servicemen returning to live there. The population is of British descent with a strong Scottish element. Approximately 1,700 British soldiers were stationed on the islands in 1994.
The economy was formerly based on agriculture, mainly sheep farming, which directly or indirectly employs most of the work force. Dairy farming supports domestic consumption; crops furnish winter fodder. Exports feature shipments of high-grade wool to the UK and the sale of postage stamps and coins. Rich stocks of fish in the surrounding waters are not presently exploited by the islanders. So far, efforts to establish a domestic fishing industry have been unsuccessful. The economy has diversified since 1987 when the government began selling fishing licenses to foreign trawlers operating within the Falklands exclusive fishing zone. These license fees total more than $40 million per year and support the island's health, education, and welfare system. To encourage tourism, the Falkland Islands Development Corporation has built three lodges for visitors attracted by the abundant wildlife and trout fishing. The islands are now self-financing except for defense. The British Geological Survey announced a 200-mile oil exploration zone around the islands in 1993 and early seismic surveys suggest substantial reserves capable of producing 500,000 barrels per day.
Chief of state Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); head of government Governor David Everard TATHAM (since August1992).
Cabinet Executive Council 3 members elected by the Legislative Council, 2 ex-officio members (chief executive and the financial secretary), and the governor.
Legislative branch unicameral; legislative Council elections last held 11 October 1989 (next to be held October 1994); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (10 total, 8 elected) independents 8. Judicial Branch Supreme Court.
Flag designed in blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant. The Falkland Island coat of arms in a white disk centered on the outer half of the flag. The coat of arms contains a white ram (sheep raising is the major economic activity) above the sailing ship Desire (whose crew discovered the islands) with a scroll at the bottom bearing the motto 'DESIRE THE RIGHT'.
South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
The island of South Georgia lies approximately 800 miles (1,280km) east south-east of the Falkland Islands, 54 30 S, 37 00 W. It is some 100 miles (160km) long and on average about 20 miles (32km) wide.
The north coast of South Georgia has several large bays, which provide good anchorage; reindeer, introduced early in this century, live on South Georgia.
The South Sandwich Islands are a further 400 miles (640km) to the south-east of South Georgia. The islands are volcanic, ice-bound in winter and difficult of approach. They are uninhabited and, like South Georgia, very rich in wildlife.
Only the coastal fringes support vegetation, mainly in the form of tussock grass. The island is home to very large populations of elephant and fur seals, four species of penguin and many species of seabird. Reindeer were introduced in about 1910 by Norwegian whaling companies.
South Georgia is extremely mountainous, and over half the island is permanently covered by snow or ice. The north-east, leeward side of the island offers a number of safe anchorages.
In 1775, Captain Cook made the first landing on South Georgia and claimed it in the name of King George III. In 1904, the first whaling station was established at Grytviken and in 1909 Britain appointed a resident magistrate. The whaling industry collapsed in the mid-1960s and the whaling stations were abandoned. In 1982, the island was briefly occupied by Argentine forces. Up to 1985. both South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands were dependencies of the Falkland Islands, but from that date were constituted as a separate colony of Britain. Concern over unregulated fishing led in 1993 to the establishment of a maritime zone of 200 miles around the islands and to the introduction in August 1993 of a regime for the conservation and management of the fisheries in the zone.
Variable, with mostly westerly winds throughout the year, interspersed with periods of calm; nearly all precipitation falls as snow.
No indigenous population
Note: there is a small military garrison on South Georgia, and the British Antarctic Survey has a biological station on Bird Island; the South Sandwich Islands are uninhabited
Some fishing takes place in adjacent waters. There is a potential source of income from harvesting fin fish and krill. The islands receive income from postage stamps produced in the UK. In 1988 estimated revenues is $291,777 while expenditures is about $451,000.
Dependent territory of the UK, also claimed by Argentina; administered from London by a civil commissioner who is also the governor of the Falkland Islands; Grytviken on South Georgia is the garrison town.
The flag of the UK is used.
British Antarctic Territory
The British Antarctic Territory consists of the segment of the Antarctic continent lying south of latitude 60°S; and, between longitudes 20° and 80°W comprising the Antarctic Peninsula with all adjacent islands, the South Orkney and South Shetland Islands and the Weddell Sea, and the landmass extending to the South Pole. With the total area of 1,709,400 sq km (660,000 sq miles).
The Antarctic Peninsula and the islands are mountainous (Mt Jackson 3,129m). The mountains, the tail of the Andes chain, are connected to South America by a submarine ridge (the Scotia Arc), which includes the active volcanoes of the South Sandwich Islands. The South Orkneys and South Georgia are also peaks of this chain. Of the 2% of the Antarctic continent which is ice-free, most is on the Antarctic Peninsula. No geological survey has been undertaken to establish whether commercially exploitable mineral resources exist in Antarctica. Scientists believe that 180m years ago, Antarctica was the centre of a southern supercontinent 'Gondwana', which broke up to form Antarctica, South America, Africa, India and Australia . So it is possible that minerals found in the other continents also exist in Antarctica. There may be hydrocarbons (oil and gas) on the Antarctica continental shelf.
The South Shetland Islands were discovered and taken possession of by Captain W Smith in 1819, the South Orkneys by Captain G Powell in 1821. The Antarctic Peninsula was discovered in 1820 by Edward Bransfield and taken possession of for Br itain in 1832 by John Biscoe. Thereafter, explorers penetrated the Weddell Sea and, finally, the great landmass of the continent. Shackleton's ship, Endurance, was trapped in pack-ice in the Weddell Sea for a year. Britain registered the first claim to Antarctic Territory by Letters Patent in 1908, a claim which had to be adjusted in 1917 as it included part of Argentina and Chilean Patagonia.
Britain's claim to the land between longitudes 20° and 80°W is still contested by Argentina's claim to the region between 25° and 74°W, and Chile's claim to the region between 53° and 90°W. In 1986, the second-biggest calving of ice in recorded history, approximately 6,000 sq km, carried the abandoned Argentine base, Belgrano I, and the Soviet summer base, Druzhnaya, out into the Weddell Sea on icebergs.
In the 1950s, five-sixths of the Antarctica continent was claimed by seven countries. None of the claims were recognised by non-claimant states, however, and the Antarctic Treaty was negotiated to put in place a mechanism to defuse the escalating disputes over sovereignty. It followed the unprecedented scientific co-operation in Antarctica demonstrated by 12 countries during the International Geophysical Year, 1957-8.
The Treaty entered into force in 1961. Covering the area south of 60°S, its objectives are: to keep Antarctica demilitarised, nuclear-free and to ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only; to promote international scientific co-operation in Antarctica; and to set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty.
An Environmental Protocol was added to the Antarctic Treaty in 199 1, putting into abeyance indefinitely the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in Antarctica. This prohibition may be reviewed after 50 years, or before if there is a consensus of treaty parties to do so.
There were 12 original signatories to the Treaty, including Britain. The Treaty has since been acceded to by 31 additional states and 14 of these have consultative party status. The Consultative Parties meet annually.
The centre of the landmass is cold (-50°C to -60°C) and dry (3-7cm of water p.a.). Nearer the coast, it is less cold (- 10°C to -20°C) and wetter. Winds are always strong; cold air from the polar region rolling down to meet the warmer air over the sea results in constant gales.
The personnel number about 50 in winter, rising to 150 in summer. In addition to the British Antarctic Survey, the bases of 12 other Antarctic treaty parties are present in the British territory, with an estimated population varying from 1,000 in winter to 2,500 in summer.
There is no economic activity. Scientific research in various fields is carried out.
Until 1989. the British Antarctic Territory was administered by the High Commissioner, resident in the Falkland Islands. In 1989, the administration was moved to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London. The Office of Commissioner is held by the Head of the South Atlantic and Antarctic Department and the Administrator is the Head of the Polar Regions Section. Since 1967, the Department of Education and Science in Britain, later the Office of Science and Technology, has been financially responsible for the British Antarctic Survey.
Base commanders are appointed magistrates and the courts of the territory are presided over by a senior magistrate or a judge of the Supreme Court. A Court of Appeal was set up in 1965 for hearing appeals from the territory.