How Did the Falkland Islands Get Their Spanish Name?
Falkland Islands are an island group in the south-west Atlantic. Capital, Stanley; area (including dependencies of South Georgia and South Sandwich group) about 12,200 sq km (4700 sq miles).
A British colony since the early 19th century, they are claimed by Argentina, as the Malvinas. In 1982 Argentine troops took the islands by force but were driven out by a strong British force after a short campaign. Argentina says it has a right to the islands, because it inherited them from the Spanish crown in the early 1800s. It has also based its claim on the islands’ proximity to the South American mainland.
Britain rests its case on its long-term administration of the Falklands and on the principle of self-determination for the islanders, who are almost all of British descent. The windswept and almost-treeless territory is made up of two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, as well as hundreds of smaller islands and islets.
The Falkland Islands took their English name from “Falkland Sound”, the channel between the two main islands, which was in turn named after Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount of Falkland by Captain John Strong, who landed on the islands in 1690.
The Viscount’s title originates from the town of Falkland, Scotland—the town’s name likely comes from a Gaelic term referring to an “enclosure”, but it could less plausibly be from the Anglo-Saxon term “folkland” (land held by folk-right).
The name “Falklands” was not applied to the islands until 1765, when British captain John Byron of the Royal Navy, claimed them for King George III as “Falkland’s Islands”. The term “Falklands” is a standard abbreviation used to refer to the islands.
The Spanish name, Islas Malvinas, is derived from the French name, Îles Malouines, named by Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1764 after the first known settlers, mariners and fishermen from the Breton port of Saint-Malo in France.