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Last Updated: Monday, 4 June 2007, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Falklands questions answered
Telegraph pole with signs to world destinations, near Stanley
The islands retain links with the UK
As part of our coverage of the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict, we asked readers to send in questions about life on the islands.

Below is a representative selection of the subjects covered in the hundreds of questions received.

Answers and viewpoints were provided by a range of Falkland Islands residents, expats, commentators and officials.

Scroll down or click on the links below to choose a question.

SIGNS OF WAR?

Q: Is there still any physical evidence of the conflict visible in and around the towns and countryside?
Mark Hellewell, United Kingdom

A: Yes, the most obvious signs are the minefields. These are well fenced and marked, and do not present a danger to life, but they are a constant reminder of the war.

Traces of conflict

A feasibility study on mine clearance, carried out at the University of Cranfield, concluded that 100% clearance of the estimated 20,000 mines was feasible. As signatories of the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines, the UK is obliged to fund the clearance by 2009.

Many Falkland Islanders, and the FI government, have said they would prefer the minefields to be left alone and the money be given over to countries in more need, such as Sierra Leone.

The reasons include: the cost to the UK taxpayer, which we guess could run into tens of millions; the safety of the mine clearance teams; the environmental impact and the logistical upheaval within a limited infrastructure.

Everyone knows where the minefields are, and they are mostly on land of little economic value. We have made our views known through the Foreign Office, but ultimately the decision lies with the UK Government.

Elsewhere there are many memories of the fighting - most obvious is wreckage from fighter planes and helicopters.

If you walk up Mount Tumbledown, just outside Stanley, you will see dug-outs, an old Argentine field kitchen, barbed wire and discarded Argentine army boots. Live ammunition still turns up from time to time.
Richard Davies, Councillor for land use and environment, Falkland Islands Government.

ARE IMMIGRANTS WELCOME?

Q: How easy is it to move to the Falkland Islands, and are immigrants welcome, whether with a profession or as a pensioner? If so, what are the professions that the islands need, and what are the costs of living there, including home purchase?
Greg, Ipswich

A: The Falkland Islands are part of the UK, but there is no automatic right for British visitors to settle here and overseas citizens may not purchase land without showing they are going to be able to support themselves and then getting a licence.

Having said that, last year's census showed only a third of residents were born here.

There are contracts for professionals sometimes advertised, usually for two or three years, and some contract workers settle here. There are also people from Saint Helena and Chile, who have become assimilated. Like with Marmite, you love it or hate it here.

Bear in mind that this place needs the full range of jobs for a modern country, including an airline with all local pilots, but has a population of only 3,000.

Regarding cost of living, some things are much more expensive, some much cheaper. Good wine is 3 a bottle, good fish 4 a kilo - but imports from the UK have to come 8,000 miles and that shows.

You can get a lot of house for your money, but most people build their own for about 100,000. There are very few re-sales but 110,000 is about the going rate, when one occurs.

There's no VAT and the top tax rate has just gone up to 26%.
Mark Brunet, general manager, Falkland Islands Development Corporation. [Moved from East Sussex, UK, to the Falklands in February, on a three-year contract]

HOW DO ISLANDERS ENTERTAIN THEMSELVES?

Q: How do they entertain themselves? What TV or radio stations do they have? Where do they go for a weekend away or a holiday? Which countries most influence their culture? Argentina/South America for being so close or Britain for being part of British territory?
Lydia Chessum, near Munich, Germany

A: Falkland Islanders enjoy a varied social life. There are many pubs and restaurants in Stanley and we also enjoy other events such as community theatre. Civilians can use the cinema and a bowling alley at the nearby military base. The majority of locals enjoy the outdoors, fishing, golf, and horse riding, and we also have a very good leisure centre. A lot of fundraising goes on in Stanley, often resulting in dances.

Victory Bar, Stanley
The Victory Bar is one popular haunt

We have a military TV channel which broadcasts programmes from Britain. Some people also subscribe to cable channels from South America. There is a local radio station and a military radio station.

It's impossible to leave the Falklands for just a weekend, but many locals will head out to camp (the countryside) for a few days. Nearly everybody has access to transport and insurance and fuel prices are low.

Britain was always the most popular holiday destination as many have had family there or children at college/university. South America is now becoming more popular with weekly flights; Santiago, Chile, is popular for short breaks.

Britain has had the strongest influence on our culture - the traditional red telephone boxes and letter boxes make Stanley look like a little piece of Britain. The food is predominantly British-style, and people drive Land Rovers. However, there are a number of Chilean and Saint Helenian workers here and areas of their culture are becoming commonplace, especially the asado - meat roasted over a fire on a spit.
Samantha Marsh, tourism assistant, and Sian Ferguson, agriculture assistant, Stanley.

DO THEY WORRY ABOUT LOSING THE ISLANDS?

Q: Do the islanders believe they are there to stay for generations to come, or do they worry about the situation de-stabilising, and Britain losing the Islands, either to force, or to politics? (For example, the handing back of Hong Kong in 1997.)
Luke Thompson, Gloucester, England

A: I believe the majority of islanders see themselves here for generations and generations to come. This, at least, is the ideal and optimistic view, and you can't be pessimistic about war and losing your right to self-determination, it is too sad.

I think it is unlikely the Argentines will ever try to use force again, especially if our garrison here remains as it is - they would be foolish to try.

What people do worry about is changing politics. What if, in years to come, the British government no longer has any concern regarding the Falklands and finally bow to the sovereignty claims and hand the Falklands to Argentina?

What if in generations to come the Falkland Islands government want us to be independent? We shun Britain and Argentina then does use force to take the islands it claims?

I sincerely hope none of the above situations occur in my lifetime, but because we do want our future generations to be Falkland Islanders and British they are situations we do not want to come to fruition.
Zoe Luxton, Veterinary Officer, Stanley

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OIL?

Q: Almost 10 years ago there was exploratory oil and gas drilling around the Falklands. Nothing has happened since yet apparently incredibly rich oil sources were found.

In a world where the quest for hydrocarbons is becoming more intense, with deeper waters drilled and unstable regimes dictating supply, why has nothing further happened in the islands? Does the lack of development have anything to do with the Argentinean situation?
Jon Bevan, Swansea

Map for oil exploration plans

...and was oil the real reason there was a war?
Jim Pretty, Eastleigh, Hampshire

A: In fact a great deal has happened since 1998 when the first wells were drilled in the Falkland Islands. A group of independent companies have spent tens of millions of dollars on exploration in preparation for a second drilling phase.

This summer 3D and a 2D seismic survey have been carried out offshore and also a CSEM (Controlled Source Electro-Magnetic) survey. The new data will now be interpreted to assist companies in locating more prospects for drilling.

Low oil prices in 1998 (the price fell to as low as $11 a barrel) saw the larger companies with licences leave the area and now very high oil prices are hampering drilling due to the unavailability of drilling rigs that can be contracted to work in the South Atlantic.

It is not unusual for remote frontier areas to take several decades for exploration to proceed. The delay has not been caused by Argentine claims to sovereignty.

It is not believed in the Falkland Islands that the reason for the war in 1982 was over oil. It is believed that the war was about sovereignty of the Islands. After the invasion the UK government took the decision to retake the islands to ensure that British subjects could exercise their right to self-determination.
Phyl Rendell, Director of Minerals and Agriculture, Falkland Islands Government.

HAS THERE BEEN A DECLINE IN RESPECT AND MANNERS?

Q: Are there issues, as in England, where there has been a severe decline in general manners and respect for other people over the last 25 years?
Steve Yates, Stockport

A: Overall, a healthy level of respect for one another exists in the Falklands and people certainly care for each other. With modern communications and comforts, there is less need for people to rely on each other as they might have done 25 years ago but, if something goes wrong for a family, everyone still steps in to help.

As with the UK, the older generation feels young people in the Falklands don't have the respect for their elders that they should and this is something people are aware we need to watch out for. However, we are not in the same situation as the UK: everyone - yes, even teenagers - still greet each other in the street and wave as they drive by.
Jenny Cockwell, editor, Penguin News.

WHAT ACCENT DO THE ISLANDERS HAVE?

Q: What accent/dialects do the Falkland Islanders possess?
Ian, Lowestoft, United Kingdom

A: I first noticed an accent just before I arrived in the Falkland Islands [in 2006] when I met a couple of people who were in the UK visiting friends. It was hard to place the accent at first but on meeting more people when I arrived here, it seems to be a bit of a mixture of New Zealand/Australia and the South West of England!

But there seems to be quite a range of different accents, which is understandable as there are many different nationalities on the islands.

The children I teach don't seem to have strong accents, it must be something that develops over time.

A lot of the children have mixed backgrounds too - some have one parent from the Falklands and the other from somewhere like St Helena, Chile or some other country.

Having lived here a while, I reckon you could tell a Falkland Islander if you spoke to them outside of the islands.
Kate Williams, teacher, Stanley Infant and Junior School. [originally from Aberdyfi, Wales]

WHAT NATIONALITY DO THEY FEEL THEY ARE?

A house painted with a Union Jack, Stanley
Some are more keen than others to make their feelings known

Q: What nationality do they actually feel? They live so close to Argentina, do they go there often? When I was in Argentina a few years ago, people on the trains would come through asking for money, having been injured as soldiers in 'Las Malvinas'. Should I have felt awkward in that situation being British?
Frances Lond-Caulk, Mexico City, Mexico

A: I feel British. I've lived in Britain and I've studied there, and I've always felt 100% at home there. I also have my identity as a Falkland Islander, which is a strong thing and a part of who I am, but I don't suppose it counts as a nationality.

Despite the proximity of Argentina, I have never been. There's no political or moral reason behind this; I'd like to go to Buenos Aires, and one day I'm sure I will, but with the whole of South America on my doorstop, there's a lot of places I plan to go.

On top of this, much of my annual leave is used just visiting Britain to see family and friends, limiting time for travel.

As regards feeling awkward in the presence of an Argentine war veteran, you shouldn't feel half as awkward as the members of the Argentine government who sent under-prepared soldiers to fight a war in the name of jingoism and government popularity, and then treated them badly when they came home.

This also applies, though to a lesser extent, to the Argentine public whom I believe would rather have forgotten their injured and defeated soldiers than live and work alongside them.
Daniel Fowler, aquaculture scientist, Stanley.

HOW ARE THE FALKLANDS GOVERNED?

Government House, Stanley
The building of Government House began in 1845

Q: How are the islands governed? Do they have an elected parliament, or an (elected) person representing their interests at Westminster?
Mark Newbury, Tynemouth

...and do Falklanders pay UK taxes?
Mark Linehan, Cardiff, Wales

A: The Falkland Islands are internally self-governing except for foreign affairs and defence. We have a legislative assembly consisting of eight members, elected for four years. They are responsible for passing laws and for the administration of the country, including the economy, health service, education and policing.

The Falkland Islands are economically self-sufficient save for the cost of defence.

Like other overseas territories we have a governor who is appointed by the Foreign Office for three to four years. Their responsibility is to be the conduit between the UK Government and the Falkland Islands Government (FIG), to consult with FIG on foreign affairs and defence issues, and to advise FIG on adherence to the UK's international responsibilities.

The governor chairs the Executive Council (the Cabinet) but it is the elected members who make decisions.

We do not have direct representation in Westminster, but maintain an office in London which keeps close contact with parliament and its members, to keep them informed on issues in the Falklands.

The Falklands levies taxation for internal purposes. We do not pay tax to the UK, nor do we receive any monies directly from the UK for any purpose.
Councillor Mike Summers, Falkland Islands Government.

DID ANYONE AGREE WITH ARGENTINE RULE?

Q: Did any of the islanders actually not mind the prospect of Argentine rule?
Rowan Hunter, Teddington

A: I was living at Fox Bay East on West Falkland at the time of the invasion but I can assure you that only a very small handful of islanders in 1982 would have accepted the prospect of Argentine rule.

The Islands had been under pressure from Argentina from many years to accept a change of sovereignty but the islanders strongly rejected this pressure.

For example, UK minister Nicholas Ridley visited the islands in November 1980 with the object of persuading the islanders to accept a Hong Kong-style 'lease back' solution to the problem. There were demonstrations in the streets of Stanley rejecting this initiative, resulting in renewed demands to "Keep The Falkland Islands British" from islanders.

Towards the end of the conflict two islanders opted to leave to go to Argentina - one had been working for the Argentine authorities and the other was married to an Argentine national.

It is interesting to note that there was a small number of Argentine nationals who settled in the islands in the years prior to the conflict and who opted to remain in the islands where they made their homes.
Councillor Richard Cockwell, Falkland Islands Government.






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