Despite wars and UN discussions, the issue of sovereignty remains a point of contention. China has backed Argentina’s claim over British-run Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands, also called Malvinas Islands, is a self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the South Atlantic Ocean at the southernmost point of South America. Stanley, the capital and major town, is located in East Falkland.
The British were the first to settle in West Falkland in 1765, but they were driven out by the Spanish in 1770. After a threat of war, the British outpost on West Falkland was restored in 1771, but the British withdrew from the island in 1774 for economic reasons, without relinquishing their claim to the Falkland Islands.
Until 1811, Spain maintained a settlement on East Falkland (which it called Soledad Island). Argentina’s government, which had declared independence from Spain in 1816, declared sovereignty over the Falkland Islands in 1820.
In 1831, a US warship destroyed the Argentine settlement on East Falkland in retaliation for the arrest of three US ships hunting seals in the area.
A British force expelled the remaining Argentine officials from the island without firing a shot in early 1833. Argentina protested Britain’s occupation of the islands.
The conflict over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands shifted to the UN (United Nations) after World War II (1939-45). The negotiations were still ongoing in February 1982, but Argentina’s military government invaded the Falkland Islands in April. With this, the Falkland Islands War began that ended 10 weeks later with the surrender of Argentine forces at Stanley to British troops.
Even though Britain and Argentina reestablished full diplomatic relations in 1990, the issue of sovereignty remained a point of conflict.
A new constitution came into effect in January 2009, strengthening the Falkland Islands’ local democratic government and preserving the islanders’ right to determine the territory’s political status. In a referendum held in March 2013, islanders nearly unanimously voted to keep the island as a British overseas territory.