East Falkland, is the largest of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, and has an area of 6,605 square kilometres (2,550 sq miles). Its population of more than 1,600 represents a large majority of the population of the Falklands. Almost all of this is in the northern half. The southern half, joined by a narrow isthmus, is known as Lafonia.
The island’s highest point is Mount Usborne (705m (2,313 ft)) in the Wickham Heights, the highest point in the whole island group. However, much of the land is low, rolling scenery, forming bogs and pastures. The geology is mostly sandstone, with some quartzite and slate, and the soil often poor and acidic. The island is almost bisected by two deep fjords, Choiseul Sound and Brenton Loch-Grantham Sound which leaves the northern portion and Lafonia in the south, connected only by an isthmus a mile and a half wide. The island contains many smaller bays, inlets and headland.
The northern portion is hilly, and is crossed by a rugged range, the Wickham Heights, running east and west, and rising in some places to a height of nearly 2000 ft.
The remainder of the island consists chiefly of low undulating ground, a mixture of pasture and morass, with many shallow freshwater tarns, and small streams running in the valleys.
Two fine inlets, Berkeley Sound and Port William, run far into the land at the northeastern extremity of the island.
Other scenery includes stone runs covered with snake plant, heathland, and bogs. Gypsy Cove is noted as a beauty spot.
The main industries on the island are fishing, sheep farming, government, and tourism. Some oats are also grown, but due to high humidity and acidic soil, the land is mainly used for grazing.
As Stanley is the capital, and East Falkland is the most populous island, it performs an economic role as the hub of the archipelago.
Many cruise ships now stop there.
A large economic role is also played by RAF Mount Pleasant, which has a number of British military personnel based there. Although these number a few hundred, their economic role in a population of under two thousand cannot be underestimated.
Smaller industries include horse and cattle farming, and there is also recent evidence to suggest possible valuable mineral deposits on the island.
Due to more intensive human settlement, East Falkland has the corresponding conservation problems.
The Warrah was one of the first casualties, as Darwin says in The Voyage of the Beagle:
“The only quadruped native to the island is a large wolf-like fox (Canis antarcticus), which is common to both East and West Falkland. I have no doubt it is a peculiar species.
Their numbers have rapidly decreased; they are already banished from that half of the island which lies to the eastward of the neck of land between St. Salvador Bay and Berkeley Sound.
Within a very few years after these islands shall have become regularly settled, in all probability this fox will be classed with the dodo, as an animal which has perished from the face of the earth.”
Rats have also been introduced, but despite this, the island has a great deal of marine life, including penguins of various kinds.
Guanacos were unsuccessfully introduced in 1862 to East Falkland south of Mt Pleasant where Prince Alfred hunted them in 1871.
They have since become extinct, though they are still found on Staats Island. Charles Darwin surveyed the area’s wildlife, while on HMS Beagle.
Stanley (Port Stanley) is the capital and only true town in the Falkland Islands.
It is located on the island of East Falkland, on a north-facing slope, south of Stanley Harbour, in one of the wettest parts of the islands. Its population is around 2,000.
Street names such as Ross Road, Fitzroy Road, Philomel Street, Barrack Street, Thatcher Drive, and Shackleton Drive all have their origins in historic personages.The original capital of the islands was at Port Louis to the north of the future site of Stanley, on Berkeley Sound.
Governor Moody (after whom Moody Brook is named) however, decided to move the capital to Port Jackson, which was renamed “Stanley Harbour”, after a survey.
Stanley Harbour was considered to have a deeper anchorage for visiting ships.
Stanley was occupied by Argentine troops for about ten weeks during the Falklands War in 1982 and renamed Puerto Argentino.
It suffered some damage, with three civilians killed by British shelling, but after the British secured the high ground around the town the Argentines surrendered with no fighting in the town itself. The land around it was also heavily mined and some areas remain.
See the main article: Stanley
Other settlements include Ajax Bay, Bluff Cove, Campo Verde, Darwin, Douglas, Fitzroy, Goose Green, Green Patch, Hope Place, Johnson’s Harbour, Mare Harbour, North Arm, Port Louis, Port San Carlos, Rincon Grande, San Carlos, Salvador, Teal Inlet and Walker Creek.
See main article: Camp Settlements
RAF Mount Pleasant
RAF Mount Pleasant (IATA: MPN, ICAO: EGYP) (also known as Mount Pleasant Airport, Mount Pleasant Complex or MPA) is a Royal Air Force station in the Falkland Islands.
The airfield goes by the motto of “Defend the right” (while the motto of the islands is “Desire the right”) and is part of the British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI).
Home to between 1,000 and 2,000 British military personnel, it is located about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Stanley—the capital of the Falklands—on the island of East Falkland.
The world’s longest corridor, half a mile (800 m) long, links the barracks, messes and recreational and welfare areas of the station, and was nicknamed the “Death Star Corridor” by personnel.
Mount Pleasant was opened by Prince Andrew on 12 May 1985, becoming fully operational the following year.
The station was constructed as part of British efforts to strengthen the defence of the Falkland Islands following the 1982 war with Argentine forces.
It remains the newest purpose-built RAF station and replaced previous RAF facilities at Stanley Airport.
Bodie Creek Suspension Bridge
The Bodie Creek Suspension Bridge is said to be the southernmost suspension bridge in the world.
This steel suspension bridge was built by the Falkland Islands Company between October 1924 and July 1925.
The bridge was manufactured in London by David Rowell & Co. at a cost of £2,281.00 and shipped to the Falkland Islands on the SS Ballena.
It has a span of 400ft carrying an 8ft wide roadway. It is suspended by four 2in. diameter steel cables carried over two 40ft towers.
The engineer in charge was C.P.Peters and the foreman was the mason E.S.Crawford. The gang on the project numbered fourteen on average.
The decision to build the bridge came about as a proposal to centralize the sheep farming operations of Darwin and Walker Creek at Goose Green.
New shearing sheds were to be built at Goose Green and it was realised that a bridge was necessary if sheep were to be brought there from the Walker Creek camps.
After construction of the bridge itself, remaining ancillary work on the approach roads was completed by the end of October 1925, enabling the first sheep to be brought across the bridge in time for the new shearing season. The bridge was closed to traffic in March 1997, as it has become unsafe.
Berkeley Sound is an inlet, or fjord in the north east of East Falkland. The inlet was the site of the first attempts at colonisation of the islands, at Port Louis, by the French. Berkeley Sound has several smaller bays within it – Port Louis harbour and Johnson’s Harbour bay, separated by Grave Point, and includes islands such as Hog Island, Kidney Island (a nature reserve) and Long Island. It was enlarged as the result of glacial action.
Brenton Loch is an inlet / small fjord on East Falkland. It is one of a handful of so-called sea lochs outside Scotland. It is sometimes known as “Brenton Sound”. “Loch” is normally pronounced in the English (as opposed to the Scottish) way by the Falklanders i.e. as “lock” without the fricative.
The far south of the loch is known as “La Boca” or “the Boca”.
It cuts into East Falkland, dividing Lafonia from the northern half of the island.
It lies to the west of the 2km isthmus on which Darwin and Goose Green are located. At its seaward end, it becomes Grantham Sound.
Its name may originate from the fact that many of the inhabitants of Goose Green in the 19th century were Scots.
In 1846 Samuel Lafone established a settlement at Hope Place on the southern shores of Brenton Loch, which was mainly populated by gauchos.
In the 1920s, the sailor Conor O’ Brien visited the loch onboard his ship Saoirse which he circumnavigated in. In 1976 Pilot Ian Campbell drowned after his Beaver floatplane crashes into the loch.
During the Falklands War, HMS Arrow was in the loch, to provide covering fire for the Battle of Goose Green.
Choiseul Sound is a stretch of sea in the Falkland Islands. It runs parallel to Engle Passage and is between Lafonia and the north of East Falkland. Lively Island is in its mouth. It was named by Louis de Bougainville after the French Foreign Secretary, the Duc de Choiseul.
Grantham Sound is a bay on East Falkland, Falkland Islands, which opens out into the Falkland Sound. At its landward end, it narrows about becomes Brenton Loch (sometimes included as a part of it). Mount Usborne overlooks it.
Lafonia is a peninsula forming the southern part of East Falkland, the largest of the Falkland Islands. Lafonia is joined to the northern part of the island by a 4 km narrow isthmus; were this isthmus to be severed, Lafonia would be the third largest of the Falkland Islands. Falkland Sound runs to the west between Lafonia and West Falkland.
Choiseul Sound lies just offshore. Barren Island, Bleaker Island, George Island, Lively Island, Sea Lion Island and Speedwell Island are all off Lafonia. The geology of north west Lafonia is Permian, and similar to that of parts of Ecca Pass in South Africa. The plain of Lafonia is constituted by arenaceous sediments of the Lafonia Group. Depressions in the sediments formed where they were cut vertically by basalt dikes. The plain of Lafonia is constituted by arenaceous sediments of the Lafonia Group.
Depressions in the sediments formed where they were cut vertically by basalt dykes. In the 21st century, Lafonia has seen gold prospecting by Falkland Gold and Minerals Ltd.
The land is gentle and low-lying, but almost uninhabited, falling into the “camp” category. Most of its settlement occurred in the mid 19th century.
In 1845 Mr Samuel Fisher Lafone, a wealthy cattle and hide merchant on the river Plate, obtained from government a grant of the southern portion of the East Falkland, which was a peninsula 600,000 acres (2,400 km²) in extent, and possession of all the wild cattle on the island for a period of six years, for a payment of £10,000 down, and £20,000 in ten years from January 1, 1852.
In 1851 Mr Lafone’s interest in Lafonia, as the peninsula came to be called, was purchased for £30,000 by the Falkland Islands Company, which had been incorporated by charter in the same year. It has been used for sheep farming since the early nineteenth century and is run from Darwin (founded 1859) and Goose Green, both of which are located on the narrow isthmus that separates Lafonia from the rest of East Falkland. North Arm Settlement is the only substantial settlement in Lafonia (not counting offshore islands), along with Walker Creek. Attractions include the Bodie Suspension Bridge, built in 1925 and said to be the southernmost in the world. There is also a shop here. Listed buildings in Lafonia include The Galpon and Stone Corral in Darwin, The Stone Cottage and Goose Green Hall (owned by Falklands Landholdings) in Goose Green and Paragon House.
Lafonia played an important part in the Falklands War; over a thousand Argentine personnel were stationed there, and there is an Argentine Military Cemetery here. One hundred locals were imprisoned in the community hall concurrently in Goose Green. Parts of Lafonia, especially near Darwin and Goose Green, are still heavily mined. Other settlements include Port King, Egg Harbour and the abandoned Hope Place.
Mount Challenger is a mountain on East Falkland, Falkland Islands. It is south of Mount Kent.
The area saw some action during the Falklands War, and some of it is still mined. The Murrell River rises on Mount Challenger.
Mount Kent is a mountain on East Falkland, Falkland Islands, it is north of Mount Challenger and saw action in the Falklands War during the Battle of Mount Harriet – some of the area still being mined.
Murrell River rises on Mount Challenger, but tributaries coming off Mount Kent, Harriet and Two Sisters, it could be seen as part of the catchment area. Mount Kent also has an impressive stone run.
Mount Longdon is a mountain in the east of East Falkland. It is best known as the site of the Battle of Mount Longdon, and overlooks Stanley, the islands’ capital.
Mount Usborne at 705m (2312 feet) above sea level, is the highest point in the Falkland Islands. Mount Usborne is referenced by Charles Darwin in Chapter 9 of the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle. It is called “Cerro Alberdi” in Spanish. The mountain is named after Alexander Burns Usborne, Master’s Assistant on HMS Beagle, the ship that took Darwin on his famous voyage. The remains of glacial cirques can also be seen on Mount Usborne. It is only a few metres taller than Mount Adam.
The Murrell River is a fishing river, on East Falkland in the Falkland Islands. It has a large estuary which joins with Hearnden Water and Port William, and which is not far from Stanley.
Much of the Battle of Mount Longdon was fought in and around the Murrell River, and Murrell Bridge.
It rises on Mount Challenger, with tributaries coming off Mount Kent, Harriet and Two Sisters. Its tributaries include Shanty Stream.
San Carlos River
San Carlos River is one of the larger rivers on East Falkland, in the Falkland Islands. It flows westwards, into San Carlos Water, near Port San Carlos. It begins in the Wickham Heights, with tributaries running off Jack’s Mountain.
San Carlos Water
San Carlos Water is a bay/fjord on the west coast of East Falkland, facing onto the Falkland Sound.
Despite its Spanish sounding name, there is a wide descrepancy with the Spanish usage, for in Spanish “Estrecho de San Carlos” refers to all of the much larger Falkland Sound, which runs between the two main islands of West Falkland and East Falkland.
The settlements of San Carlos and Port San Carlos on the Water, as well as San Carlos River all take their name from the ship San Carlos which visited in 1768.
San Carlos Water became notorious during the Falklands War as “Bomb Alley”. The British forces routed the Argentine land forces, but British ships became pounded by air raids from Argentine planes. It was of crucial strategic value in the amphibious assault, and British invasion of Argentine occupied East Falkland.
The Wickham Heights
The Wickham Heights are a rugged chain of mountains on East Falkland. They include the island group’s highest peak, Mount Usborne, and are partly contiguous with No Man’s Land. The Wickham Heights are in the northern portion of East Falkland, running east and west, and rising in some places to a height of nearly 2000 ft. They form the “spine” of the East Falkland, north of Lafonia. Rivers and streams such as the Malo River and San Carlos River spring in the Wickham Heights.