Falkland Islands. 30th December 2017.

Port Stanley.

The salvation for Port Stanley was the Falklands War in 1982 due to the impact on the economy. Today, there are 3200 inhabitants of the 778 islands, an increase of 3% per annum. The islands are self financing and not in any way financially dependent on the UK except for the military presence.

The average income is in excess of 20,000 p.a., substantially in excess of its nearest neighbours in South America; there is virtually no unemployment and many people have two jobs, with farming, tourism, fishing and the public sector being the main sources. There are 167 sheep per capita compared to 7 in New Zealand (!) and the wool is of exceptional quality, commanding a premium. Three off-shore areas have been licensed for oil exploration with potential of a billion barrels of oil, but production would not commence for several years. However, the income generation would be eye-watering - riches per capita greater than Saudi Arabia.

In the meantime, life has changed dramatically since 1982. Although the familiar main road from the news reports of 35 years ago is very recognisable, everything has been spruced up. The buildings are all well maintained, the 1930s brick architecture of one row of houses would not look out of place in Brighton or Bournemouth, just like the red telephone boxes, the red letter boxes and the double decker bus; there are large out of town developments of new housing with all mod cons. including central heating, and the cars, mainly 4 x 4s, are up to date with distinctly British "F" registered number plates ! The currency is the Falkland Islands with parity to Sterling.

Most families have more than one home - a house in Port Stanley and another out in the "Camp" (or the countryside) and the quality of life is enviable. Port Stanley has a new hospital with all the usual specialities, a modern school with further education being provided in the UK, an indoor swimming pool, a new police station and fire station, a classic Post Office, and boasts three supermarkets, selling Tesco and Waitrose products, together with a range of shops, car dealerships and other businesses. The town has its own micro-brewery and three pubs. There is a Cathedral and a Roman Catholic church. Transport is by an Islander aircraft which runs like a bus or taxi - you tell them where you want to go, and every morning they announce over the Falklands Island Radio what their itinerary and passenger list (not much opportunity for an illicit affair !) will be. The facilities would be the absolute envy of a village of the same population in England ! To put things into perspective, 3200 people would occupy a village stretching from Dover to Lands End, and from the Isle of Wight to Birmingham.

Our first encounter with locals was a couple of magnificent King Penguins in the harbour, who were content to pose for their photograph - one with a distinct paunch of affluence !

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