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Falkland Islands

Money & costs

Economy

The Falklands’ economy depended almost exclusively on wool exports from the mid-19th century until 1986.

Even today, most of Stanley’s population works for the local government (FIG) or for the FIC, the major landowner and economic power in the islands for more than a century. The FIC continues to provide shipping and other services, but it has sold all its pastoral property to the government for subdivision and sale to local people. In Camp, nearly everyone lives on relatively small, widely dispersed family-owned units and is involved in wool growing.

Fishing, however, has now eclipsed agriculture as a revenue producer. Prior to the 1982 war, the seas around the Falklands were unpoliced, open to any fishing fleets that cared to drop their nets. In 1987 Britain allowed the islands to declare a 150 nautical mile (278km) Conservation and Management Zone around the islands (since expanded to 200 nautical miles, or 370km). Since then, Asian and European fleets seeking squid and finfish have paid as much as £25 million per year to the islands in license fees and taxes. More recently, revenue has declined to £12–15 million per annum as a result of several very poor Illex squid-fishing seasons. In 2005 the Falklands government granted 25-year fishing contracts, ensuring a long-term revenue source for the islands.

Offshore oil exploration has found promising indications of petroleum. Many islanders fret that major oil discoveries – and the vast wealth they would bring to the islands – will lead to new tensions with Argentina and a massive influx of outsiders that would be difficult to assimilate into the local population.

Falklands consumers stepped into the Internet-shopping Age in 2003, when the British government gave the islands a postcode (FIQQ 1ZZ). Previously, islanders routinely found their orders rejected when shopping online.