LIFE IN THE FALKLAND ISLANDS

 

This article will focus on moving to and living in the Falkland Islands.

 

Quick Introduction

 

 

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Moving to the Falklands

The routes currently available to persons (not exempt from immigration control) seeking to enter the Falkland Islands are a visitor’s permit, work permit or (temporary) residence permit and these are explained below;

Visitor’s Permit: A visitor’s permit grants leave to the holder to enter and remain in the Falklands for a specified period of time.  A person may apply for a visitor’s permit on arrival but where this occurs it will ordinarily be issued for a maximum period of one month however it may subsequently be extended for up to a maximum of 12 months.  A visitor’s permit may not be granted or extended without the Governor’s consent.

Work Permit: A work permit, which needs to be applied for outside of the Falklands initially, grants leave to the holder to enter, depart and reside in the Falklands during the period of its validity and to take employment with a specified employer or on one’s own account engage in any trade, business or vocation stated in the permit. Maximum validity is two years but it can be renewed on application.

Residence Permit (Temporary): A Residence Permit, which needs to be applied for outside of the Falklands, grants the holder to enter, depart and reside in the Falklands during the period of its validity up to a maximum of three years, but it can be renewed on application.  The holder of a residence permit and where applicable, any dependents included in the permit, are entitled to apply for work permits if they wish to subsequently take up an employment opportunity.

Permanent Residence Permit: A Permanent Residence Permit grants indefinite leave to the holder to enter, depart and reside in the Falklands and to take any lawful employment or pursue any lawful business, trade, profession, or vocation in the Falklands without needing a work permit.  Where an application for a permanent residence permit is approved, any dependents included in the application of a principal applicant will also be granted a permanent residence permit in their own right.  The annual number of permanent residence permits that may be granted is controlled by a quota system and applicants

 

Getting to the Falklands

There are two international flights to the Falklands each week.  Firstly, the ‘Airbridge’ flies from RAF Brize Norton, near Oxford, to the Mount Pleasant Airport (Airport Code: MPN) in the Falklands, currently via Cape Verde.  The flight is operated by the Ministry of Defence and is primarily for military purposes, however a number of seats are allocated to civilians.  The second flight is the commercially operated flight provided by LATAM airlines.  The flight originates from Santiago, Chile to Mount Pleasant Airport, via Punta Arenas in the south of Chile.  LATAM are a member of the One World airline alliance and are partners with British Airways and Iberia, amongst other airlines.

 

People in the Falklands

The population of the Falkland Islands is mainly of British descent and the population, according to the 2016 Falkland Island National Census, is 3,354 with the vast majority of people living in the Capital, Stanley.  A total of 2,524 people live in Stanley and 397 live in the countryside, known locally as ”Camp”.  A British military base called Mount Pleasant is located on East Falkland, approximately 35 miles from Stanley, and has a civilian population of 381 and includes approximately 1,000 military personnel, however this figure can fluctuate.

According to the 2016 National Census, a total of 49 nationalities were recorded to be living in the Falklands, demonstrating the diverse community living in the Falkland Islands.  This includes Falkland Islander, British, Chilean, American, Australian, New Zealander, Brazilian, Danish, Dominican Republican, Georgian, Filipino, Pakistani and Zimbabwean, amongst others.

 

Taxation in the Falkland Islands

Personal tax rates are also relatively simple.  Each individual receives an allowance of £15,000 per annum, however this rate is pro-rated based on the length of time you reside in the Falkland Islands.  A tax rate of 21% is applied to earnings between £15,001 and £27,000 per annum, and earnings over £27,000 per annum is charged at a rate of 26%.

The Falkland Islands does not impose Value Added Tax (VAT) or General Sales Tax (GST).

 

Living in Stanley

Stanley is the Capital of the Falklands and has a population of 2,524 at the last Census and is located on the north-eastern tip of East Falkland. The original capital was Port Louis to the north of Stanley, however because of the deeper water around Stanley harbour, it was a better location for visiting ships.  The following will provide an overview of life in Stanley from social events, dining options to utilities.

Stanley is the only town in the Falkland Islands and consists of all the services expected of a small English town, such as a hospital, two schools, two supermarkets, a range of restaurants and pubs, sport facilities, a swimming pool and an 18-hole golf course.  Th e following will explain what is life is like in the Capital of the Falkland Islands.

 

Community

The Falklands have many events throughout the year, from planned events to or one-offs.  Events can range from fund raising events, which happen in the islands to raise money for local and overseas organisations such as the Stephen Jaffray Memorial Fund, Cancer Research UK, and the Falkland Islands national teams. Such as football and badminton. There are also craft events held throughout the year in Stanley, where locals sell many homemade items.

Dances are held nearly every week at one of the venues in Stanley, with live music from local bands or a local DJ.  Some of the finer affairs that happen in the Falklands allow you to dress up in evening suits and ball gowns. These are hosted throughout the year, for all age groups. The May Ball is a prom event held for the over 15s, giving the younger generation a chance to dress in all their finery, perform traditional Falkland dances and possibly be crowned May king or queen.  Also, the Winter Ball allows anyone at the Falkland Islands Community School to attend, but also adults giving a chance to dress up and dance the night away.

The Conservation Ball is held once a year to fund raise for Falkland Conservation and is considered the social event of the year.  The evening involves a fine dinner, an auction for artwork or Antarctic cruises and live music, all in the name of raising money for Conservation.

Other events around the Falklands include the sheep and shearing shows and dog trials.  These events illustrate some of the cultural traditions in the Falklands and the agricultural background of the islands.  The Christmas and New Year period host a number of traditional events, such as the horse races held on Boxing Day and raft race in the Stanley Harbour.  The raft race is an event were anyone can take part and build their own raft to complete with others to cross the finish line first.

Another unique event held in the Falklands is the Mid-Winter Swim.  Held to raise money for a local charity, the aim is to take a dip in the South Atlantic in the middle of winter!

 

Health and Education

Medical, dental and community health services are based in the local hospital based in Stanley, the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH). The Hospital has a range of medical, dental, nursing (including midwives), other health professionals and engineering staff. All the staff are qualified to UK standards or recognised equivalents. The hospital provides a range of services for psychiatry to orthopaedics, and any patient who needs access to other treatments or diagnostics that cannot be done in the islands is referred to a hospital in the UK or Chile.

As mentioned, Stanley is home to the infant and Junior School (IJS), which is for students aged three to 11, and the Falkland Islands Community School (FICS), which is for student aged 12 to 16.  Currently there is a combined number of approximately 300 students attending both schools.  The schools have an OFSTED rating of ‘Good’ for the IJS and ‘Requires Improvement’ for the FICS, but it is very close to a ‘Good’.  The Schools both follow the UK curriculum with 18 GCSE subjects being offered at FICS.

After completing GCSEs, students who perform above a set threshold will receive funding from the Falkland Islands Government to attend college.  The majority of Falkland student usually attend Peter Symonds College in Winchester or Chichester College.  Funding is also available from the Falkland Islands Government to attend University.

Students living in Camp are taught with the use of traveling teachers that will conduct lessons in three of the major settlements around the Falkland Islands.

 

Sport

There are many groups, teams and organised sport for people to join in the Falklands, including roller and deck hockey, football, badminton, swimming, archery, and basketball, to name a few.  A number of these sports train to compete internationally, such as the Small Islands Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Youth Commonwealth Games, or even other events such as the World Shearing Championships.

Stanley also hosts the world’s most southerly certified marathon, which takes place in March and attracts participants from all over the world.  There are multiple organised runs organised throughout the year, including competitive races, fun runs or charity runs.

The Falkland Islands has great sporting facilities.  The Leisure Centre contains a 25 metre heated swimming pool, a gym, a sports hall that can host a number of indoor sports, a squash court and an 11-a-side football pitch.  The military also allow civilians to join their gym, which is located at the Hillside Camp.  There are plans to building additional sporting facilities in Stanley, such as a full-sized 11-a-side third generation artificial football pitch and a new indoor facility with an artificial multi-use surface.

 

Eat and Drink

Stanley currently has 15 restaurants, cafés and pubs with many having views of Stanley Harbour. These pubs and restaurants are found throughout Stanley, so no matter where you live in in the town there is somewhere close by to visit.

The local restaurants range from the more formal like the Malvina House Hotel and the Stanley Waterfront, to the more informal such as Shorty’s Diner and the Narrows Bar, amongst many others.  These restaurants offer a range of Falkland’s tastes,  such as squid, local fish, upland goose, lamb, beef and much more.  For drinks you can find all sorts of refreshments from teas and coffees to locally brewed beer and spirits. The wine selection in the islands is diverse, you can find wine from Chile, Uruguay, France, and Australia.

As an island nation with a thriving fishing industry, seafood is popular in the Falklands with many restaurants offering local squid and fish on the menu.  The dishes include Falklands’ calamari, which is the islands’ signature dish, however Patagonian toothfish, Atlantic rock cod, sea trout, snow crab and scallops are also recommended.  There is of course local fish and chips, which can be found on the menus of most restaurants in Stanley.

The Falkland Islands is well known for its organic meat that roam across the Falklands.  Fresh Falklands’ beef, lamb and mutton can be found in the restaurants and on supermarket shelves, at a comparatively lower price than found in the UK.

 

Shopping

There are two supermarkets in the Falkland Islands; the West Store and the Seafish Chandlery, both of which have shelves filled with all the essential groceries (fresh, chilled and frozen, etc.) and many luxury items.  Stanley is also home to many other stores, such as electrical, DIY, appliance, home and gift shops, to cover the majority of the needs of the modern consumer.

 

Utilities, Fuel and Communications

Energy: The Stanley Power Station uses eight generators to provide all of Stanley’s power requirements.  There is also a strong focus on renewable energy in the Falkland Islands, which led to the development of the Sand Bay Wind Farm and the Rural Energy Grant Scheme.  The Sand Bay Wind Farm came online in August 2007, initially with three turbines.  At present the wind farm consists of six wind turbines which in total provide an average of 40% of Stanley’s annual electrical energy needs.  The cost of electricity at the moment in the Falklands is 19p per kWh.

Water: Stanley is supplied with treated water and it is drinkable from the tap.  The fresh water originates from Moody Brook Stream located west of Stanley.  The cost of the water is included within the Falkland Islands Government annual Stanley Service Charge, amongst other services provided, which currently stands at £426.

Fuel: The price of fuel in the Falkland Islands is lower than in the United Kingdom (UK), as fuel duty is not exercised in the Falklands (on average Diesel is 50% cheaper and Petrol is 15% cheaper).  Stanley Services Ltd is partly owned by FIG and two other overseas organisations.  As well as providing domestic fuels, such as diesel, petrol and kerosene, Stanley Services also supplies bunker fuels through its subsidiary Stanley Bunkering Ltd.

Communications: Sure South Atlantic Ltd have a licensed monopoly to provide the Falkland Islands telecommunications, such as telephone and broadband internet.  To get a better understanding of their services and offering, please visit www.sure.co.fk.

 

Landmarks

Christ Church Cathedral is considered the centre of Stanley, and can be found on the town’s Waterfront.  The Cathedral is the southernmost Anglican Cathedral in the world and it is one of the few building in the Falklands made from local stone and brick.  Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Whale Bone Arch monument. This is made from the jaws of two blue whales and was raised in 1933 to commemorate the centenary of British rule in the Falkland Islands.

Stanley is also home to the wonderful Historic Dockyard Museum.  The museum was recently relocated to the historic dockyard and is housed in the old buildings, which were restored for the move.  The museum exhibits many social and cultural interests, and it also displays the natural history and the islands’ links to the Antarctica. The Museum also has temporary exhibitions that change throughout the year, that celebrates anniversaries and events that are and have happened in the Islands.

There are a number of notable landmarks in or in close proximity of Stanley to go and explore.  There are a number of beautiful and interesting locations a few miles east of Stanley, such as Gyspy Cove, Yorke Bay, the Totem Pole, Surf Bay and Cape Pembroke, and the mountains can found west of the town.  Yorke Bay and Gypsy Cove stand just four miles from the centre of Stanley.  Unfortunately, Yorke Bay, which is a beach, cannot be accessed due to it being mined from the Falklands War.  However, it is well sign posted and fenced to prevent anyone entering the area.   Next to Yorke Bay is Gypsy Cove, which is a small beach but, like Yorke Bay, is home to Magellanic Penguins.

The Totem Pole is a quirky point of interest east of Stanley and can be found on the way to Surf Bay or Cape Pembroke.   The Totem Pole sign posts the distance of various place in the world, including many English, American and even Russian towns, amongst others.  The Totem was started by military personnel in the 80s but visitors have added to this pole over the years.  A few hundred metres east of the Totem Pole is Surf Bay.  This beautiful beach is a kilometre long and is ideal for people wishing to walk, run or walk their dog.  

Cape Pembroke, a few miles further east to Surf Bay, is the most easterly point of the Falkland Islands and is home to an automated lighthouse originally built in 1855.  The area is a wonderful place to explore and is a great place for whale watching in the months of February and March.

 

Camp Life

Only 397 people live in Camp.  These people live on East Falkland, West Falkland and the outer islands.  There are many settlements scattered across the Falklands, including Goose Green on East Falkland and Port Howard and Fox Bay on West Falkland.  The majority of people living in Camp are linked to the agriculture industry, either from owning, managing or working on farms as there are over 80 farms in the Falklands.

Energy in Camp is supplied renewable energy, mostly from wind turbines, but solar energy is also emerging in the islands.  Since 1996 FIDC has implemented a scheme that assists farmers and rural business owners with the purchase of wind generated electricity, initially in the form of wind turbines.  The initiative has meant power is now available to farms over a 24-hour period and has reduced the reliance on expensive to run diesel generator.

Fresh water is accessible in Camp from natural sources, such streams, rivers and natural springs.

Travel around the islands

The Falkland Islands has a road network in excess of 580 miles (930km).  The delivery of the programme has resulted in 95% of the Falkland Islands population living within a 30 minutes’ drive of the road network.  A regular ferry service is operated, which sails between New Haven, East Falkland and Port Howard, West Falkland.  The ferry service, using the vessel MV Concordia Bay, can transport passengers, vehicles, cargo, fuel, plant and machinery.  The MV Concordia Bay is also regularly used as a supply vessel to the smaller Islands surrounding the Falkland Islands.

The Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) operates a fleet of five Britten-Norman BN2B Islanders (pictured above), one of which is used for Fisheries Patrol, three are used to transport passengers and mail, and one is a dual purpose aircraft.  FIGAS, based at Stanley Airport (PSY), provides unscheduled flights to settlements, farms and islands around the Falklands that maintain a suitable air field.

Accommodation

For those living in Stanley, it is recommended to visit Camp and experience its own distinct lifestyle and beauty.  Camp is home to 27 certified lodges, 12 on East Falkland, 6 on West Falkland and 11 on the out islands.  This includes the lodges on the wildlife rich Sea Lion Island, the scenic and history-rich Darwin and self-catering accommodation at Race Point and Elephant Beach.

For more information on all of the accommodation located in Camp, please visit the Falkland Islands Tourist Board website; www.falklandislands.com.

Wildlife

The Falkland Islands is internationally renowned for its accessible wildlife, particularly its birdlife.  Approximately, 60,000 people visit the Falklands each year by sea and air to experience the wold-class wildlife found around the islands.  The wildlife found in the Falkland Islands is varied, numerous and unique.  There are 20 Nature Reserves, 22 Important Birds Areas and 17 Important Plant areas designated in the Falkland Islands, providing a strong indication of how important the natural environment, the wildlife and its preservation is to the Falkland Islands.

Five species of penguin can be seen in the Falkland Islands, totalling over a million individual penguins, they are the Southern Rockhopper, Gentoo, King, Magellanic and the Macaroni Penguin.  There are 319,000 breeding pairs of Rockhopper penguin found in the Falklands, making it the second largest population in the world, but by far the most accessible.  The largest population of Gentoo Penguins is found in the Falklands, containing 132,000 breeding pairs, which is again easily accessible.  There are more than 1,000 breeding pairs of King Penguins in the Falkland Islands, and seeing as the majority of King Penguins can be found in South Georgia or the sub-Antarctic Islands, the King Penguins in the Falklands are the most accessible King Penguins in the world.  The Falklands is also estimated to provide a home for between 70,000 to 140,000 breeding pair Magellanic Penguins.

There is an abundance of other bird life in the Falklands, including the estimated 500,000 breeding pairs of Black-browed Albatross, representing 70% of the world’s population of Black-browed Albatross.  Steeple Jason Island, found in the North West of the Falklands, has the single largest albatross colony of this species in the world.  Access to albatross colonies in the Falkland Islands is unparalleled with 12 breeding sites and 4 accessible locations scattered across the Falklands.

Other birds found in the Falklands include 700 breeding pairs of the inquisitive bird of prey called the Striated Caracara or locally known as the Johnny Rook.  The Falklands is a world strong-hold for the Striated Caracara population.  Other birds of prey, such as the Southern Caracara, Turkey Vulture, Peregrine Falcon and Variable Hawk, breed and can be seen in the Falklands.

 

There are also three bird species that are endemic to the Falkland Islands and they are the Cobbs’ Wren, the Falkland Steamer Duck and the Tussac bird.  There are 13 sub-endemic species of bird found in the Falkland Islands, such as the White tufted/Rowland’s Grebe, Common Diving Petrel, Black-crowned night heron, Upland Goose, Kelp Goose, Short-eared owl, Dark-faced ground tyrant, White-bridled finch and Long-tailed Meadowlark.

Three species of seal breed in the Falklands, they are the Southern Sea Lion, the Southern Elephant Seal and the South American Fur Seal.  An estimated 7,000 Southern Sea Lions can be found in various locations in the Falklands, such as Cape Dolphin.  The Elephant Seal can be seen at Sea Lion Island and Carcass Island and the South American Fur Seal can be seen on New Island.  Commerson’s and Peale’s Dolphins can be commonly seen inshore during the summer months and various Whales species can be seen offshore during certain times of the year.

 

Top Tips

Tip 1: Buy a 4x4 vehicle.  The roads in Stanley are surfaced, however the road between Stanley and Mount Pleasant, and all the roads in Camp are stone roads and require a 4x4 vehicle to get around.

Tip 2: Use Facebook.  Facebook is used by the vast majority of people, not just to post pictures and to communicate, but to advertise anything and everything and promote events.  It is recommended people living in the Falklands joining the Bring and Buy group for second-hand buying that can include cars, clothes, furniture and anything else!

Tip 3: Explore the islands.  Visit East and West Falkland, and especially visit the beautiful outer islands.  You will witness spectacular views and wold-class wildlife that you will not be able to see anywhere else on earth.

  • The official language of the Falklands is English, although there is a significant Spanish speaking community in the islands;
  • The official time is GMT -4 hours in Falklands’ winter and GMT -3 hours in Falklands’ summer;
  • Falklands’ summer is from October to March and Falklands winter is from April to September;
  • The official currency of the Falkland Islands is the Falklands Pound (FKP), which is pegged with the British Pound Sterling (GBP), which can also be used as legal currency in the Falkland Islands.

About the FIDC

FIDC acts as the national economic development agency for the Falkland Islands and is tasked to develop the commercial sector of the Falkland Islands by being one of the principal partners delivering the Economic, Rural and Tourism Development Strategies.

To help drive sustainable economic growth and assist in the creation of new jobs and opportunities, FIDC provides various forms of support and assistance to the Falkland’s business community.