Economy of the Falkland Islands

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The economy of the Falkland Islands, which first involved sealing, whaling and provisioning ships, became heavily dependent on sheep farming from the 1870s to 1980. It then diversified and now has income from tourism, commercial fishing, and servicing the fishing industry as well as agriculture. The Falkland Islands have the highest standard of living in South America. The islands use the Falkland pound, which is tied to sterling.


Historical development

During the 19th century, the supply and maintenance depot for ships at Stanley developed into a port serving ships rounding Cape Horn. There was also trade in cow hides from the wild descendants of cattle introduced by French settlers in the late 18th century. Sheep farming was then introduced, taking over from the cattle trade in the 1870s and becoming self-supporting by 1885. The islands also provided a base for whaling and sealing, with factories being built on East Falkland and South Georgia, but these industries ended, leaving the wool trade as the mainstay of the islands' economy.

By the 1980s, the economic viability of the islands was in doubt, but in the aftermath of the Falklands War there was a new commitment from the United Kingdom government. The Falkland Islands Development Corporation was formed in mid 1984 and in its annual report at the end of that year it set out to increase employment opportunities by encouraging diversification, to increase population levels through selective immigration, to aim for long-term self-sufficiency and to improve community facilities. To achieve this, the Corporation identified agricultural improvements, tourism, self-sufficiency in energy, development of the industrial and service sector, fisheries, and land subdivision as areas to tackle.

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