Argentine veterans of the 1982 Falklands War
03 January 2013 12:00 AM

Everything you need to know about the Falkland Islands in five minutes

03 January 2013

I hear Argentina is causing trouble again over the Falklands, eh?

Yes. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has placed adverts in a number of national newspapers, in which she complains about the 'blatant' colonialism displayed by us British.

Actually, when you read her advert it does seem like they have a bit of a point. The Falklands are a tiny clump of islands 8,700 miles away from mainland Britain, and they're just off the coast of Argentina. So surely they belong to them?

Their geographical location doesn't make the slightest bit of difference. They are a British Overseas Territory and as such should remain British, permanently and forever. We've even fought a war over them.

Hmmm. If you say so. Weren't the Malvinas, as Kirchner and her compatriots call them, Argentinean before they were British, though?

You might think so from reading Argentina's nationalist propaganda. Especially given the date her advert refers to, January 3rd 1833, when a Royal Naval vessel turned up and turfed out the limited number of Argentineans living there. In fact the British had established a presence on the archipelago long before the 19th century.

They're not exactly a Channel Island, though, are they? There's a bit of a difference between the Isle of Wight and Port Stanley.

The point is the British got there long before the Argentines. We first appeared in 1765, and set up a settlement or two of our own. Unfortunately economic pressures meant we had to withdraw less than a decade later. But we left a plaque saying we'd got there first, so it stands to reason the Islands are ours. No further questions needed. Case closed.

The Argentines must have come into the picture eventually.

Yes. Eventually along came the South Americans – not the Argentineans but the 'United Provinces', as their fledgling nation-state was called back then in the early years of the 1800s. They barely had any kind of handhold on the archipelago. In fact they let a private individual basically take over the Islands on their behalf. But they didn't get very far. The Islands were mostly used as a refuge for whalers and other shipping in the chilly waters of the South Atlantic Ocean. Until the British turned up, and the Islands became a very useful outpost in the growing British Empire.

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