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The Falkland Islands War

The Falklands are a group of islands off the coast of southern South America about 59° W and 52° S1. They are also called the Malvinas Islands or the Falkland Islands. The Falkland Islands were fought over by the Argentineans and the British during the Falklands War. It was an undeclared war, which means that there was no official declaration by either side. The driving force behind the attack on the Falkland Islands by Argentina was Leopoldo Galtieri, a dictator of Argentina. He knew that dissent was rising within his own country and he improvised the war as a distraction from domestic problems.

Competing Claims for the Falklands

Map of the Falkland Islands
The war was justified by both sides by various claims on the islands. The Argentineans based their claims on the closeness of the Falkland Islands to South America and the fact that the Spanish had owned them for a brief time. The Argentinians also cited the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 which stated that the Spanish would get the undiscovered lands on one side of an imaginary line running North and South across the earth and the Portuguese would get the undiscovered lands on the other side. Argentina and the Falklands were on the Spanish side of the line. The British based their claim on occupation of the Falklands. Also, the British were the first to discover and settle the islands. (The islands were discovered in 1592 by John Davis and were settled by the British in 1765. They were abandoned by the British to the Spanish in 1774, but the British recovered them 1883.)

Military Conflict in the Falklands

The Argentinians began the Falklands War by landing some scrap metal salvagers with a fairly big escort and planting the Argentinean flag on the Falkland Islands. This was done on March 19th, 1982. The war started on April 2nd. It lasted 72 days. 10,000 Argentinean soldiers were captured and returned during the war. 655 Argentinean soldiers and sailors and 236 British military personel were casualties during the war. The Argentineans were not very good troops, especially compared to the British, whose military was well-trained. Before the end of May the British had gained a firm hold on East Falkland and in June they marched into Port Stanley and declared victory. Subsequently, the Argentineans agreed (in 1995) not to try to take the Falkland Islands by force. The British still refuse to discuss the subject of which country has the best right to control the islands.

Falklands War Timeline

  • March 19 1982 - The Argentinians land scrap metal salvagers with an escort of troops, planting the Argentinian flag on the Falkland Islands. Argentina takes over Falklands
  • April 25 1982 - Great Britain retakes Georgia Island.
  • May 1 1982 - The British attack the Port Stanley air field.
  • May 2 1982 - A British submarine sinks an Argentinean cruiser.
  • May 4 1982 - Argentine planes sink a British ship and destroy a British airplane.
  • May 9 1982 - Two British airplanes sink an Argentine fishing boat.
  • May 14 1982 - 14 Argentine airplanes are destroyed in air/sea battle.
  • May 18 1982 - A peace proposal suggested by the United Nations is rejected by Britain.
  • May 21 1982 - The British land on East Falkland. Also, a British ship is sunk and 9 Argentinean airplanes are destroyed.
  • May 23 1982 - Another British ship is sunk and 10 more Argentinean airplanes are destroyed.
  • May 28 1982 - Airplanes attack Port Stanley and the British take both Darwin and Goose Green. (Forts.) Port Stanley (the capital) is surrounded and Mount Kent is taken by the British.
  • June 1 1982 - Britain declares its terms to end the struggle.
  • June 8 1982 - The Argentines attack some British landing craft.
  • June 12 1982 - The British take Mount Longdon, Two Sisters, Mount Harriet, and Mount Tumbledown.
  • June 14 1982 - The British take Port Stanley, which ends the war.

Some Developments of the Falklands War

The Argentine dictatorship was roundly criticized for initiating the war and suffered at home in spite of their plan to distract the Argentine populus from domestic problems. Margaret Thatcher the prime minister of the United Kingdom was strengthened politically at home and the prestige of the British Military was maintained. The British Navy found that aluminum superstructures on ships, though light, was also flamable in the face of modern weapons. Argentina would not relinquish claims to the island, but agreed never again to attempt to take the islands by force.

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This article written by K.E. Rayment