Falkland Islands and Kerguelen


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Falkland Islands, Kerguelen is Number 138 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The Falkland Islands are a British-controlled archipelago located in the South Atlantic approximately 480 kilometers off the coast of Argentina, which also claims the islands under the name Islas Malvinas. At the time this study was written, the Falklands were a Crown Colony, which also included a number of smaller islands in the extreme South Atlantic as well as Graham Land on the Antarctic mainland. The book contains chapters on physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on political history notes the different names given to the islands over the years, including Îles Malouines, after the visits by ships from Saint Malo, France, and summarizes the main facts concerning the dispute between Britain and Spain over ownership of the islands—one that was carried over into the dispute between Britain and Argentina after the latter’s independence from Spain. The economy of the islands is described as based mainly on sheep and whaling. The second part of the book is a brief treatment of Kerguelen, a French dependency in the southern Indian Ocean named after Yves Joseph de Kerguélen-Trémarec, a French mariner who discovered the archipelago in 1772. The study notes that Kerguelen was never permanently inhabited, although it was frequently visited in the 19th century by (chiefly American) whalers and sealers. Today the main island of Grande Terre and the 300 other small islands of Kerguelen are part of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories and also are known as the Desolation Islands.

Last updated: February 4, 2016