There are several airports in the Falkland Islands. However, as of September, 2006, the only commercial flights are on Saturdays using LAN airlines from Punta Arenas, Chile, going to Mount Pleasant Airport (MPN), an airport which also serves the British Royal Air Force. Economic principles prevent regularly scheduled service from Britain, so travel in recent years has been from Chile. Boat service in the past has come from Uruguay and Comodor Rivadavia, Argentina (before the war). Military flights also arrive from Ascension Island, which is another British territory in the South Atlantic Ocean.
The Falkland Islands, also called The Malvinas, are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located 300 miles (483 kilometres) from the coast of South America and 584 miles north of Antarctica (Elephant Island). They consist of two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, together with about 700 smaller islands. Stanley, on East Falkland, is the capital and largest city. The islands are a self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, but have been the subject of a claim to sovereignty by Argentina since the early years of Argentina's independence from Spain.
In 1982 the islands were invaded by Argentina, precipitating the two-month-long undeclared Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom, which resulted in the defeat and withdrawal of Argentine forces. Since the war there has been strong economic growth in both fisheries and tourism. The inhabitants of the islands, who mainly are of Scottish descent, are British citizens and support British sovereignty.
Much of the land is part of the two main islands separated by the Falkland Sound: East Falkland, home to the capital of Stanley and the majority of the population, and West Falkland. Both islands have mountain ranges, rising to 2,313 feet (705 m) at Mount Usborne on East Falkland. There are also some boggy plains, most notably Lafonia, the southern half of East Falkland. Virtually the entire area of the islands is used as pasture for sheep.
The Falkland Islands have a cold marine climate with strong westerly winds. It is generally cloudy and humid; rain occurs on more than half the days in a typical year. Snow is rare, but can occur at almost any time of year. Islanders themselves talk about two main areas of the islands, namely Stanley and the rest, which they call "the Camp", from the Spanish campo ("countryside").
Sheep farming was formerly the main source of income for the islands, and still plays an important part with high quality wool exports going to the UK, but efforts to diversify introduced in 1984 have made fishing the largest part of the economy and brought increasing income from tourism. ()