The Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas)
Set over 300 miles east of Patagonia, the Falkland Islands are in the heart of the South Atlantic Ocean and host to an impressive array of wildlife, from the world’s largest colony of black-browed albatrosses to three species of penguins not found in Antarctica: the golden-haired rockhopper penguin, the black-banded Magellanic penguin, and the tangerine-cheeked king penguin. Though its proximity to Argentina suggests it was once part of South America, scientists believe the islands were once attached to the African continent, leading to theories that the archipelago’s flora and fauna arrived through dispersal.
Host to a similar climate and topography as Tierra del Fuego, the archipelago’s two main islands, East Falkland and West Falkland, are the most commonly traversed, though the archipelago is host to around 700 more rocky islands and islets that cover a nearly4,700 square-mile area.
With a long history of disputes over the land, the Falkland Islands are marked by times of war. France, Spain, and Argentina have all claimed the Falkland Islands at some point throughout history, though the archipelago has been an overseas territory of the United Kingdom since 1833. Today, the archipelago’s around 3,200 settlers call the capital of Stanley in East Falkland home, while the archipelago’s wildlife on land and sea truly set it apart. Creatures like the rare striated caracara are often sighted circling above the area’s rocky coastline, while marine mammal species like elephant seals, fur seals, and Peale’s dolphins swim throughout the kelp forests of the icy South Atlantic waters.