12,173 sq km (4,700 sq miles).
0.3 per sq km.
British Overseas Territory, which is not recognised by Argentina, as it considers the Falkland Islands to be part of Argentina.
Head of state:
Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor Nigel Haywood since 2010.
Head of government:
Chief Executive Keith Padgett since 2012.
240 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are used.
Nineteenth-century shipwrecks and a plethora of marine life are among the attractions awaiting visitors to the Falkland Islands. The islands may well be known as the battle ground of the eponymous 1982 war between Britain and Argentina, but this archipelago in the Atlantic is an intriguing and relaxing holiday destination.
Wildlife lovers will find five different species of penguins, whales, and sea birds. Head to Volunteer Point for the islands’ largest group of king penguins, and there are a predictably vast amount of sea lions to be found on Sea Lion Island. Most of the Falkland Islands’ population live in the capital Stanley, over whose harbour much avian life can be seen circling above the waves.
Reminders of the 1982 conflict do remain, with battlefields, such as Goose Green and Pebble Island, now tourist attractions.
Last updated: 19 October 2015
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The weather can change rapidly and it is often possible to experience several seasons in a single day. The sun can be very strong, wear good sunglasses, a hat and high-factor sunscreen.
You can fly between the Islands with the Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) who operate four Britten Norman ‘Islander’ aircraft from Stanley airport; book directly through FIGAS or with a local tour operator. Check that your flight has been confirmed the afternoon before you are due to fly. In bad weather, check your flight is going ahead before you travel to the airport.
LAN Airlines of Chile operate a once weekly service to Mount Pleasant Airport from Punta Arenas in southern Chile. Onward air connections from Punta Arenas are available to Puerto Montt and Santiago de Chile, and onward from Santiago to other international destinations. Once a month this service stops in Rio Gallegos, on the southern coast of Argentina. The service will pick up passengers in Rio Gallegos on one week (usually the second Saturday of the month), and drop off passengers in Rio Gallegos the following week. Check with LAN in advance for up to date information on Chile/Falkland Islands air services.
The RAF operates a fare-paying service from RAF Brize Norton (via Ascension Island) to Mount Pleasant Airport twice weekly. This service can be subject to delays due to poor weather, especially during the southern hemisphere winter. Total journey time is approximately 22 hours. For further information and how to book this service visit the Falkland Islands website or contact the Falkland Islands Government Office. Carry some US dollars in case the flight is diverted to South America or North Africa.
Other charter aircraft from the UK occasionally operate a route to the Falkland Islands depending on demand. The Falkland Islands tourist board can advise further.
Four wheel drive vehicles are most commonly used. Roads in Stanley are surfaced, as is some of the 35-mile Mount Pleasant Airport to Stanley road. There are around 600 miles of unsurfaced roads on the Islands. Coach, local bus and taxi services to and from Mount Pleasant Airport are available and can be booked in advance. Taxis are available in Stanley. Speed limits are 25mph in the Stanley area and 40mph on other roads.
Because of the condition of most roads, and the strong winds, you should take great care when driving outside Stanley, especially on the road between Mount Pleasant Airport and Stanley. Deaths have occurred on this road and accidents are commonplace. Self-drive four-by-four vehicles are available for hire and a UK driving licence is sufficient. Laws on the wearing of seat belts and drink driving are strictly enforced.
Unexploded ordnance from the 1982 conflict remains on the Falkland Islands and occasionally can be found on any of the major battle fields. All mine fields have been identified, are well mapped and fenced-off. The fences are hung with red warning triangles stating ‘mines’. It is an offence, punishable by imprisonment or large fine, to enter these areas, remove, damage or obscure the signs, or cut or remove any part of the fence. Detailed maps of minefield locations are available locally.
The Falkland Islands Government maintains an office in London that can provide further information for visitors:
Falkland Islands Government Office
Telephone: 020 7222 2542
Fax: 020 7222 2375