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1500 to 1982 Overview

This timeline traces the history of the Falkland Islands from their discovery to the events leading up to the conflict in 1982.


1501- Amerigo Vespucci sights islands that may have been the Falklands (Malvinas).

1520- Esteban Gomez, the captain of one of Magellan's ships, sights islands that may have been the Falklands.

1540- One of the ships from a Spanish expedition under Francisco de Camargo winters in islands that may have been the Falklands.

1592- The Englishman John Davis sights islands that may have been the Falklands.


1600- Sebald van Weerdt, a Dutchman, sights islands that may well have been the Jason group of islands to the north-west of the Falklands.

1690- Captain John Strong enters the sound between the islands and names it Falkland Sound, and lands on the islands.


1764- Louis Antoine de Bougainville sets up a French colony at Port Louis on East Falkland.

1765- John Byron lands on Saunders Island, which lies off West Falkland, and claims sovereignty over the group for Britain.

1766- A British settlement is established at Port Egmont on Saunders Island.

1767- Bougainville agrees to abandon the colony, in return for compensation from Spain. Port Louis becomes Puerto Soledad.

1770- A Spanish force expels the British from Port Egmont.

1771- Spain returns Port Egmont to the British.

1774- The British depart from Port Egmont for reasons of economy, but leave a lead plaque claiming sovereignty.

1775- Captain Cook discovers South Georgia.


1811- The Spanish evacuate the Falklands.

1816- Argentina claims independance as the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata.

1820- David Jewitt (aka Daniel Jewitt) takes possesion of the islands for the United Provinces.

1823/6- Louis Vernet establishes a settlement.

1829- Vernet appointed governer of the Malvinas.

1831- Vernet seizes three American ships that were hunting seals in the areas over which he claimed authority. In December the USS Lexington attacks Puerto Soledad and proclaims the islands free of all Government.

1832- New governer Mestivier appointed, and then murdered. Captain Pinedo sent to re-establish authority.

1833- Captain James Onslow annexes the islands for Britain. Buenos Aires protests.

1843- Letter patent claiming the islands British.

1852- Falkland Islands Company given royal charter.


1908- Letter patent establishes sovereignty over South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and British Antartic territory.

1960- UN Resolution calling for decolonisation.

1965- UN Resolution 2065 asserts that the Falklands/Malvinas constitute a colony and calls on Britain and Argentina to negotiate taking account of the islanders' interests.

1966- Private Argentine "occupation" attempt at Stanley airfield.

1968- Memorandum of Understanding is agreed official level. Lord Chalfont visits the islands. Parliament undertakes to make no change against the islanders' wishes.

1971- Communications Agreement.

1974- Fuel provided be Argentina.

1975- Shackleton survey commissioned.

1976- Argentine base secretly set up on Southern Thule.

1977- British secretly send a submarine and two frigates to South Atlantic.

1981- Ridley visit to establish support for leaseback. Later Parliament re-affirms 'paramountcy' of islanders' wishes. In December , Argentine Junta under General Galtieri, Anaya and Lami Dozo seizes power. First visit of Argentine businessman Constantino Davidoff to South Georgia.

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