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East Falkland ( ) the largest of the Falkland Islandsmarker in the South Atlanticmarker, has an area of 2,550 sq mi (6,605 square kilometres). Most of the population of the Falklands live in East Falkland, almost all of them living in the northern half of the island. The southern half, joined by a narrow isthmus, is known as Lafoniamarker.

Geography

Christchurch Cathedral in Stanley


The northern part of the island is hilly, and is crossed by a rugged range, the Wickham Heights, running east and west, and rising in some places to a height of just over 1968 ft (600m). The highest point, and the highest point in the whole island group, is Mount Usbornemarker, 2,313 ft (705 m), in the Wickham Heightsmarker. The remainder of the island consists chiefly of low undulating ground, a mixture of pasture and morass, with many shallow freshwater tarns, and small streams running in the valleys. The geology is mostly sandstone, with some quartzite and slate, and the soil often poor and acidic. Two fine inlets, Berkeley Sound and Port William, run far into the land at the northeastern extremity of the island.

The island is almost bisected by two deep fjords, Choiseul Soundmarker and Brenton Loch-Grantham Soundmarker which leaves the northern portion and Lafoniamarker in the south, connected only by an isthmus just under 1.5 mi (2.5 km) wide. The island contains many smaller bays, inlets and headland.

Other scenery includes stone runs covered with snake plant, heathland, and bogs. Gypsy Covemarker is noted as a beauty spot.

Population and infrastructure

Stanleymarker, the capital of the islands and the main seaport is in East Falkland. The islands' (Anglican) Christchurch cathedral is also in Stanley.

Port Louis,at the head of Berkeley Sound, was once the seat of government. However, the anchorage there was found to be rather too exposed and about 1844 a town was laid out, and the necessary public buildings were erected on Stanley Harbour, a sheltered recess within Port William.

Other settlements include Port Louis, Darwinmarker, Port San Carlosmarker, San Carlosmarker, Salvadormarker, Johnson's Harbourmarker, Fitzroymarker, Mare Harbourmarker, and Goose Greenmarker.

East Falkland also has two airports with paved runways, Port Stanley Airportmarker and RAF Mount Pleasantmarker. There is a lighthouse at Cape Pembroke near Stanley. East Falkland contains most of the archipelago's few roads.

Economy

The main industries on the island are fishing, sheep farming, government, and tourism. Some oats are also grown, but due to high humidity and acidic soil, the land is mainly used for grazing.

As Stanley is the capital, and East Falkland is the most populous island, it performs an economic role as the hub of the archipelago. Many cruise ships now stop there.

A large economic role is also played by RAF Mount Pleasantmarker, which has a number of British military personnel based there. Although these number a few hundred, their economic role in a population of under two thousand cannot be underestimated.

Smaller industries include horse and cattle farming, and there is also recent evidence to suggest possible valuable mineral deposits on the island.

Wildlife

Due to more intensive human settlement, East Falkland has the corresponding conservation problems. The warrah was one of the first casualties, as Darwin says in The Voyage of the Beagle:

"The only quadruped native to the island is a large wolf-like fox (Canis antarcticus), which is common to both East and West Falklandmarker. I have no doubt it is a peculiar species... Their numbers have rapidly decreased; they are already banished from that half of the island which lies to the eastward of the neck of land between St. Salvador Baymarker and Berkeley Soundmarker. Within a very few years after these islands shall have become regularly settled, in all probability this fox will be classed with the dodo, as an animal which has perished from the face of the earth."


Rats have also been introduced, but despite this, the island has a great deal of marine life, including penguins of various kinds.

Guanacos were unsuccessfully introduced in 1862 to East Falkland south of Mt Pleasant where Prince Alfred hunted them in 1871 [62462]. They have since become extinct, but are still on Staats Islandmarker

Charles Darwin surveyed the area's wildlife, while on HMS Beagle.

History



Although there is possible evidence of Yahgan (Patagonian native) landings, such as the warrah, the first accepted settlement was during the 18th century when East Falkland was settled by the French, with Louis de Bougainville establishing Port Louis on Berkeley Soundmarker in 1764. The French settlement included a number of Bretons, and the islands became known as "Îles Malouines" (the islands of St Malomarker), later hispanicised as "Islas Malvinas". For years, Port Louis was the main settlement, not only on East Falkland, but the entire archipelago and a subject of controversy.

In October 1820. Colonel David Jewett, sought shelter in the islands after his ship, the frigate Heroina, was damaged in a storm. Jewett was an American privateer employed as captain by the Buenos Aires businessman Patrick Lynch who had obtained a corsair license for the ship from the Buenos Aires Supreme Director Jose Rondeau. On 6 November 1820, raised the flag of the United Provinces of the River Plate at Port Louis, and claimed possession of the entire archipelago in the name of the United Provinces of the South (which later became the United Provinces of The River Plate and ultimately Argentina). Eye witnesses present, such as James Weddell, opined that the ceremony was designed to establish a salvage claim over a French wreck.

In 1823, Argentina granted fishing rights to Jorge Pacheco and Luis Vernet. Their first expedition to the islands ended in failured and Pacheco abandoned the venture. Vernet persisted with a second expedition in 1826 also ending in failure due to the combination of the Brazilian blockade of Argentina and the conditions encountered. Vernet finally succeeded on establishing a permanent settlement at Puerto Soledadmarker in 1828. Prior to both expeditions, Vernet had approached the British consulate in Buenos Airesmarker seeking permission for his venture in the islands. Subsequently Vernet furnished the consulate with progress reports and urged the establishment of a permanent British garrison in the islands.

"Puerto Luis" as it was renamed became a seal hunting base and small fishing port. Vernet later seized the American ship, Harriet, for breaking the restrictions on seal hunting. Property on board the ship was seized and the captain was returned to Buenos Aires to stand trial. Vernet also returned for the trial. The American Consul in Argentina protested the actions by Vernet, stating that the United States did not recognise Argentine sovereignty in the Falklands.

Therefore, the consul dispatched the USS Lexington warship to the Puerto Luis to retake the confiscated property, as well as the "Superior" and "Breakwater" which had also been seized. As a result, the USS Lexington destroyed Puerto Luis in 1832, an act which was later condoned by the American ambassador in Buenos Aires, who declared the Falkland Islandsmarker free from any power. Following these events Vernet resigned as Governor, in 1832 the Argentine Government appointed an interim governor, Esteban José Francisco Mestivier, and sought to establish a penal colony in the islands. Shortly after his arrival in the islands Mestivier was murdered by his own men and the settlement was in chaos.

These events provided the spur for Britain to return to the islands, (See Re-establishment of British rule on the Falklands ), requesting that the Argentinemarker military presence leave on 3 January 1833 (although members of the settlement were encouraged to remain). "Puerto Luis" was initially renamed "Ansons Harbour" before reverting to "Port Louis" in line with the original French name of the settlement Port Saint Louismarker, and became a naval garrison and civilian settlement.

Shortly after this, the second voyage of HMS Beagle surveyed the island. The names of two settlements on East Falkland, Darwinmarker and Fitzroymarker, commemorate Charles Darwin and Robert FitzRoy respectively. On the 15 March 1833, an unimpressed Darwin commented that
After the possession of these miserable islands had been contested by France, Spain, and England, they were left uninhabited. The government of Buenos Aires then sold them to a private individual, but likewise used them, as old Spain had done before, for a penal settlement. England claimed her right and seized them. The Englishman who was left in charge of the flag was consequently murdered. A British officer was next sent, unsupported by any power: and when we arrived, we found him in charge of a population, of which rather more than half were runaway rebels and murderers. (The Voyage of the Beagle.)


This "rebellious" population would have lived on East Falkland, as there was no permanent presence on West Falkland at this time.

In 1836, the island was surveyed by Admiral George Grey, and further in 1837 by Lowcay. Admiral George Grey, conducting the geographic survey in November 1836 had the following to say about their first view of East Falkland -

We anchored a little after sunset off a creek called 'Johnson's Harbourmarker'. The day having been cloudy with occasional showers, these islands at all times dreary enough, looked particularly so on our first view of them, the shores of soundmarker, steep, with bare hills intersected with ravines rising from them, these hills without a tree and the clouds hanging low, gave them exactly the appearance of the Cheviotsmarker or a Scotchmarker moor on a winter's day and considering we were in the May of these latitudes, the first impression of the climate was not favourable, the weather however, was not called, the thermometer was 63 degrees which is Howickmarker mid-summer temperature.


In 1845 Mr Samuel Fisher Lafone, a wealthy cattle and hide merchant from Montevideomarker on the River Platemarker, obtained a grant of the southern portion of the East Falkland from the British government, He purchased this peninsula, in extent, together with possession of all the wild cattle on East Falkland for a period of six years, for a payment of £10,000 down, and £20,000 in ten years from January 1, 1852. In 1851 the Falkland Islands Company, which had been incorporated by charter in the same year, bought Mr Lafone's interest in Lafoniamarker, as the peninsula came to be called, for £30,000. Lafone himself never visited the islands. The remnants of this endeavour are the ruins at Hope Place and the stone corral at Darwin.

In 1859, Darwinmarker was founded.

Although used for sheep farming since the early nineteenth century, East Falkland was dominated by cattle farming until the 1850s.

In 1925 the Bodie Suspension Bridge was built across a creek in Lafonia, and is said to be the southernmost in the world, and is still in pedestrian use today.

1982 invasion and Falklands War



In April 1982, East Falkland was invaded by Argentina, which had never given up its claim. Governor Sir Rex Hunt was informed by the British Government of a possible Argentine invasion on Wednesday 31 March. The Governor summoned the two senior Royal Marines officers of Naval Party 8901 to Government House in Stanley to discuss the options for defending the Falklands. Major Mike Norman RM was given overall command of the Marines due to his seniority, while Major Gary Noott RM became the military advisor to Governor Hunt. The total strength was 68 Marines and 11 sailors, which was greater than would normally have been available because the garrison was in the process of changing over. But their numbers were reinforced by 25 Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF) members. Their commanding officer, Major Phil Sommers, tasked the volunteer militiamen with guarding such key points as the telephone exchange, the radio station and the power station. Skipper Jack Solis, onboard the civilian coastal ship Forrest operated his boat as an improvised radar screen station off Stanley.

East Falkland was also the location of the bulk of the action in the Falklands War, partly because most of the population lived there. As a result, some areas of the "Camp" in East Falkland are still heavily mined. Areas that saw intensive action included Goose Greenmarker, San Carlos, Mount Longdonmarker and the Two Sisters ridge.

List of East Falkland battles



Present day



Following the Falkland War, Britain increased its military presence on the East Falkland and invested heavily in improving facilities in Stanley and transportation around the islands, tarmacking many roads. The population has risen, due to the growth of Stanley, but has declined in the Camp. Most of the improvements in the islands have taken place on East Falkland.

References

  • Southby-Tailyour, Ewen: Falkland Island Shores.
  1. [1] "Falkland Islands," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2009. Archived 2009-10-31.
  2. http://southseas.nla.gov.au/biogs/P000067b.htm
  3. http://southseas.nla.gov.au/biogs/P000067b.htm


External links




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