The Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas or Guerra del Atlántico Sur), also known as the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was a 1982 limited war between Argentina and the United Kingdom. The conflict resulted from the long-standing dispute over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which lie in the South Atlantic, east of Argentina.
The Falklands War began on Friday 2 April 1982, when Argentine forces invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. The British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force, and retake the islands by amphibious assault. The resulting conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, which returned the islands to British control. 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders died during the conflict. It remains the most recent external conflict to be fought by the UK without any allied states and the only external Argentine war since the 1880s.
The conflict was the result of a protracted historical confrontation regarding the sovereignty of the islands. Argentina has asserted that the Falkland Islands are Argentinian territory since the 19th century and, as of 2012, shows no sign of relinquishing the claim. The claim was added to the Argentine constitution after its reformation in 1994. As such, the Argentine government characterised their initial invasion as the re-occupation of its own territory, whilst the British government saw it as an invasion of a British dependent territory. However, neither state officially declared war and hostilities were almost exclusively limited to the territories under dispute and the local area of the South Atlantic.
The conflict had a strong impact in both countries. Patriotic sentiment ran high in Argentina, but the outcome prompted large protests against the ruling military government, which hastened its downfall. In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government was bolstered by the successful outcome, which helped carry them to victory in the 1983 general election. The war has played an important role in the culture of both countries, and has been the subject of several books, films, and songs. Over time, the cultural and political weight of the conflict has had less effect on the British public than on that of Argentina, where the war is still a topic of discussion.
Relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina were restored in 1989 under the umbrella formula which states that the islands’ sovereignty dispute would remain aside.1
- Source: Wikipedia (2012) Falklands War. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falklands_War [accessed 15 February 2012] [↩]