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resisting the falklands war - a    retrospective
sovereignty, self-determination, and    the nation-state
faq
press release

FALKLANDS WAR, 1982
Frequently Asked Questions

What was the war about?
Were there any other issues?
When was the war fought?
Were many people killed?
Why are the Falklands sometimes called the Malvinas?








What was the war about?
The Falklands archipelago, 400 miles into the south Atlantic from the east coast of Argentina, has long been the subject of territorial dispute between Britain and Argentina, Although it has been occupied solely by people of British descent since 1833, Argentina maintains a claim to sovereignty based on an earlier brief occupation by Spain, and Argentinians are brought up to believe, essentially, that part of their historic homeland has been stolen from them. Most British people had never heard of the islands until the Argentine invasion of 1982. The Islanders themselves are unanimous in preferring to remain a British overseas territory rather than become a colony of Argentina.
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Were there any other issues?
Argentine had been under a military dictatorship since 1976, renewed by a further coup in 1981, but increasingly unpopular because of a ‘dirty war’ against perceived dissidents, involving murders and ‘disappearances’. Margaret Thatcher, British PM since 1979, was becoming increasingly unpopular because of hard-line monetarist policies. Both governments welcomed the opportunity of a populist cause. Both military establishments welcomed the opportunity to try out new ‘high-tech’ weaponry.
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When was the war fought?
On 1 April 1982 Argentina landed troops who quickly overcame the token British defence force. On 3 April Britain sent a naval/military task force, which reinvaded the islands on 21 May, leading to Argentine capitulation on 14 June 1982.
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Were many people killed?
In proportion to the length of fighting a great many people were killed. No one died in the Argentine invasion, but once the British counter-attack began, casualty figures mounted, including the destruction of whole ships on both sides. 255 British armed forces personnel were killed, including two 17-year-olds and another on his 18th birthday; and 14 merchant seamen (eight of them Hong Kong Chinese) as Royal Fleet Auxiliary crew commandeered in aid of the RN; some of the deaths were by ‘friendly fire’. Three women Falkland Islanders were killed in onshore shelling by the RN in the final battle. Some 650 Argentine forces personnel were killed, about half in the ship Belgrano as it sailed away from the Falklands, and many of the remainder were young army conscripts.
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Why are the Falklands sometimes called the Malvinas?
On first discovery, the British named the islands in honour of Lord Falkland, Treasurer of the Navy. In a brief occupation, the French called them Isles Malouines, after the port of St Malo. The Spanish translated that name to Islas Malvinas, also adopted by Argentine. As with some other disputed territories, there are political connotations to the use of either present name.
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