Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Falkland Islands

Just 34 years ago, there was actually a war over these islands with Argentina against the U.K. The war centred on the sovereign rights and government of the islands (population of about 2,000 citizens)- basically barren, desolate and wind-swept rocks. 

Here's a bit of history. The first recorded foreign visitor was British in the 1600s and the first settlers were Spanish, English and French that settled, but not a lot mainly due the small size, its harsh climate and the reality that little can be grown; even fishing couldn't support a lot of people. There is a saying down here that the summer lasts 3 hours. 

The British set up navy presence in the mid 1600s as a path to the East. But around 1750, Britain's King George III called his military support back to England and the government basically left the Islands. Before the commander-in-chief sailed away, he left a plaque proclaiming the land to be British and nothing really happened for the next 200 years.

When the UN was established in 1947, the UN Charter claimed it was the right of all citizens of the world to determine their sovereignty including these small islands. Over the next 30+ years, there was diplomatic talk between Argentina and Britain on who should maintain the government of this land. But it was the people (slightly over 2,000 population) that  wanted to stay British. So in 1982, when the Argentinian Junta sent commandos over to take charge, this was not very well liked with the U.K. Thatcher, who was U.K.'s Prime Minister and whose popularity was less than 30%, needed to do something.

What does she do? She sends naval ships along with navy and army personnel to fight for it. Sadly, after over 300 British, over 600 Argentinians and 3 civilians died, Britain declared the land to be theirs once and for all. 

Fast forward to today, it definitely 'feels' totally English as if you're walking down the street to a British pub. They drive on the wrong side of the road. The currency is Pounds Sterling. And there are English books and newspapers in stores (no Spanish) which I haven't seen since we started our trip in January. 

You can see the War Memorial along with Thatcher's very own statue to let the world know forever more that she won.

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