ECONOMY OF FALKLAND ISLANDS

FARM OF FALKLAND ISLANDS
Sheep farming was formerly the main source of income for the islands and still plays an important part with high quality wool exports going to the UK: according to the Falklands Islands Meat Company there are more than 500,000 sheep on the islands. Since 1984, efforts to diversify the economy have made fishing the largest part of the economy and brought increasing income from tourism.

The government sale of fishing licences to foreign countries has brought in more than £40 million a year in revenues, and local fishing boats are also in operation. More than 75% of the fish taken are squid, and most exports are to Spain. Tourism has shown rapid growth, with more than 30,000 visitors in 2001. The islands have become a regular port of call for the growing market of cruise ships. Attractions include the scenery and wildlife conservation with penguins, seabirds, seals and sealions, as well as visits to battlefields, golf, fishing and wreck diving.

An agreement with Argentina had set the terms for exploitation of offshore resources including large oil reserves; however, in 2007 Argentina unilaterally withdrew from the agreement. In response, Falklands Oil and Gas Limited has signed an agreement with BHP Billiton to investigate the potential exploitation of oil reserves. Climatic conditions of the southern seas mean that exploitation will be a difficult task, though economically viable, and the continuing sovereignty dispute with Argentina is hampering progress.

Defence is provided by the UK, and British military expenditures make a significant contribution to the economy. The islands are self sufficient except for defence; exports account for more than $125 million a year.[57]

The largest company in the islands used to be the Falkland Islands Company (FIC), a publicly quoted company on the London Stock Exchange. The company was responsible for the majority of the economic activity on the islands, though its farms were sold in 1991 to the Falkland Islands Government. The company now operates several retail outlets in Stanley and is involved in port services and shipping operation.

The local currency is the Falkland Islands pound, which is in parity with the pound sterling. Sterling notes and coins circulate interchangeably with the local currency. The Falkland Islands also mint their own coins, and issue stamps, which are a source of revenue from overseas collectors.