The History of the Falkland Islands reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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History of the Falkland Islands

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The Falkland Islands were uninhabited when first discovered by Europeans, but the recent discovery of the remains of a wooden canoe is strong evidence that they had previously been visited, most probably by the Yaghan people of Tierra del Fuego. It has also been suggested that the warrahs found on the island were introduced by the Yaghans, bearing as they did a resemblance to the Fuegian fox.

An archipelago in the region of the Falkland Islands appeared on maps from the early sixteenth century, suggesting they may have been sighted by Ferdinand Magellan or another expedition of the 1500s.

They were seen by Davis in 1592, and Sir Richard Hawkins sailed along their north shore in 1594. In 1598, Sebald de Weert, a Dutchman, visted them and called them the Sebald Islands, a name which they bore on some Dutch maps into the 19th century. Captain John Strong sailed between the two principal islands in 1690, and called the passage Falkland Sound, and from this the island group afterwards took its English name.

In 1763 the islands were taken possession of by the French, who established a colony at Port Louis on Berkely Sound. The French name of Îles Malouines was given to the islands - malouin being the adjective for the Breton port of Saint-Malo. The Spanish name Malvinas is derived from the French adjective.

The French were expelled by the Spaniards in 1767 or 1768. In 1761, Commander Byron took possession on the part of Britain on the ground of prior discovery, and his doing so was nearly the cause of a war between Britain and Spain, both countries having armed fleets to contest the barren but strategically important sovereignty (like the Mascarene Islands but without their intrinsic resources, it was well placed as a base for pirate and privateer raids). On January 22, 1771, however, Spain yielded the islands to Great Britain by convention.

As they had not been actually colonised by Britain, Argentina claimed the group in 1820 and formed a penal settlement at Port Louis which initially promised to be fairly successful until a mutiny turned it into an actual or potential pirate base. Thus Argentina lost that part of its claim from being in actual and effective possession (since the mutineers were). Owing to some misunderstanding or correct understanding of the risk by the Americans the mutinous settlement was destroyed by the latter in 1831. After all these vicissitudes, the British flag was once more hoisted at Port Louis on January 3, 1833 with the establishment of a naval garrison and civilian settlement there to prevent the strategic location again being compromised.

The strategic significance was confirmed by its becoming the location of the second major naval engagement of the First World War.

Falklands War - Argentina invaded the islands on 2 April, 1982. The British responded with an expeditionary force that landed seven weeks later and after fierce fighting forced Argentine surrender on 14 June, 1982.

Early history adapted from the ninth edition of an encyclopedia (1879) and other sources

See also : Falkland Islands Falkland Islands History