Falkland Islands

Crime is relatively unknown in the Falklands, although one should still take the normal precautions of not leaving items unattended or travelling alone late at night. If problems are encountered the police force should be helpful.

Unexploded ordnance from the 1982 conflict, including land mines, are still found in the islands. No civilians have been harmed by landmines since the conflict ended and the remaining minefields are all well marked and clearly cordoned off. It is a criminal offence to enter a minefield or to remove minefield signs.

Many animals in the islands can be dangerous when cornered or with young. Elephant seals, sea lions and fur seals are probably the most dangerous; keep a safe distance when viewing these animals. A general rule is that if the animal seems to notice your presence, you are too close.

The Falklands, being located at a far southern latitude, may be affected by the Antarctic ozone hole from August until December. During this time be sure to wear sunscreen on sunny days, as the risk of sunburn is increased significantly. During other months of the year the ozone hole shrinks and the danger from the sun is not significantly greater than anywhere else on the planet. However, it is wise to wear sunscreen as the burning effect of the sun is often under-estimated by visitors to the islands.

There are no special medical requirements for visiting the Falklands. There is a large hospital in Stanley but outside of the capital there are no medical facilities. For serious injuries the costs of being airlifted out of the islands are very high. Your travel insurance must cover the costs of medical evacuation.

settlements

"Town" is a relative term in the Falklands. While the population of Stanley hovers near two thousand, the populations of other settlements usually range from the single digits to perhaps twenty people with a noticeable increase during the busy sheep shearing times. Bear in mind that the average medium sized village located in the United Kingdom has a population of only around 3,000 and this is nearly the total population of the entire Falkland Islands.

Stanley - capital and port

Goose Green - small settlement with numerous remnants of the 1982 war on East Falkland

Port Howard - 200,000 acre sheep farm on West Falkland

contact

The international calling code for the Falklands is +500. The local phone company, Cable & Wireless, sells phone cards which can be used throughout the territory but international calls cost £0.90 per minute. Broadband internet access now exists island-wide although speeds are much closer to dialup, 56 Kbps or less. Several hotels, as well as the visitor centre offer computers that accept Cable & Wireless internet cards and there are an increasing number of Wi-Fi hotspots. Both phone and internet cards can be purchased from the Cable & Wireless office in Stanley located on the hill past the War Memorial, as well as in some of the stores in Stanley. The larger lodges will also sell phone cards and may have internet cards. More recently a GSM cell phone network has been made available but works only for Stanley, Mount Pleasant and a few other locations on East Falkland.

The postal service in the Falklands is reliable and letters can be mailed easily from Stanley and most settlements. The main post office is located in downtown Stanley across from the FIC West store.

talk

As the Falklands are a British overseas territory, English is the official language. Ten percent of the population is fluent in Spanish, mainly native speakers from nearby countries like Chile. Many others have a "working knowledge" of Spanish.

respect

Since the population has British roots, customs tend to follow those of the United Kingdom, although in many ways the islanders are more conservative than Britain. Drugs are not tolerated and travellers should be aware that among some residents there is still a mistrust of Argentines stemming from the 1982 conflict between the UK and Argentina.

In addition to the above concerns, there exists a Country Code that should be followed by visitors to the islands:

Always ask permission before entering private land.

Keep to paths wherever possible. Leave gates open or shut as you found them.

Be aware of the high fire risk throughout the Islands. Be extremely careful when smoking not to start fires. Take cigarette butts away with you.

Do not litter; take your rubbish home with you.

Do not disfigure rocks or buildings.

Do not touch, handle, injure or kill any wild bird or other wild animal.

Never feed any wild animals.

Always give animals the right of way. Remember not to block the routes of seabirds and seals coming ashore to their colonies.

Try to prevent any undue disturbance to wild animals. Stay on the outside of bird and seal colonies. Remain at least six yards away. When taking photographs or filming stay low to the ground. Move slowly and quietly. Do not startle or chase wildlife from resting or breeding areas.

Some plants are protected and should not be picked.

Whalebones, skulls, eggs or other such items may not be exported from the Falklands.