The Islas Malvinas (also known as the Falkland Islands) are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about 250 nautical miles (290 mi; 460 km) east from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland. Argentina has claimed sovereignty, but it is a self-governing British Overseas Territory.
The islands took their English name from "Falkland Sound", the channel between the two main islands, which was in turn named after Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland, by Captain John Strong, who landed on the islands in 1690.
The Spanish name, Islas Malvinas, is derived from the French name, Îles Malouines, named by Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1764 after the first known settlers, mariners and fishermen from the Breton port of Saint-Malo in France. The ISO designation is Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and its ISO country code is FK.
As a result of the continuing sovereignty dispute, the use of many Spanish names is considered offensive in the Falkland Islands, particularly those associated with the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands. General Sir Jeremy Moore would not allow the use of Islas Malvinas in the surrender document, dismissing it as a propaganda term.
Although the United Kingdom and Argentina resumed diplomatic relations in 1990, no further negotiations on sovereignty have taken place. Between 18,000 and 25,000 land mines remain from the 1982 war dispersed in a number of minefields around Port Stanley, Port Howard, Fox Bay and Goose Green.
In 2007, 25 years after the war, Argentina reasserted its claim over the islands, asking for the UK to resume talks on sovereignty. In March 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated in a meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernández that there would be no talks over the future sovereignty of the islands. As far as the governments of the UK and of the islands are concerned, there is no issue to resolve. The islanders consider themselves as almost entirely British and maintain their allegiance to the United Kingdom.
The islands are located in the South Atlantic Ocean on a projection of the Patagonian continental shelf about 250 nautical miles from the Patagonia coastline and slightly to the north of the southerly tip of Cape Horn and of its undersea extension, the Scotia Arc. In ancient geological time this shelf was part of Gondwana, which around 400 million years ago broke from what is now Africa and drifted westwards relative to Africa.
The islands, which has a total land area is 4,700 square miles (12,173 km2) and a coastline estimated at 800 miles (1288 km), comprise two main islands, West Falkland and East Falkland and about 776 small islands. The islands are heavily indented by sounds and fjords and have many natural harbours. The two main islands are separated by the Falkland Sound which averages 12 miles (20 km) in width. Much of the northern part of the sound which is clear water approaches 40 meters (22 fathoms) in depth, but the southern part, which has many flat islands and some shoals, has a number of channels that are much deeper.
The islands have become a regular port of call for the growing market of cruise ships with more than 36,000 visitors in 2004. Attractions include the scenery and wildlife conservation with penguins, seabirds, seals and sealions, as well as visits to battlefields, golf, fishing and wreck diving. British military expenditures add to the islands' "tourism" income.