Stanley, capital of the Falklands, is the only town in the archipelago of 778 islands and is home to almost 75 percent of the total population of 2,932 people. Its human population is greatly outnumbered by about one million penguins and half a million sheep.
The Falklands are a remote island group in the South Atlantic, about 300 miles east of South America's Patagonian coast. They cover about 4,700 square miles -- roughly the size of Connecticut or half the size of Wales. The landscape is harsh and windswept, boggy and treeless.
The islands are a British Overseas Territory but Argentina claims sovereignty and invaded the islands, which it refers to as Las Malvinas, in 1982. The resultant Falklands War lasted 74 days -- from April 2, with the invasion of South Georgia, until the Argentine surrender on June 14. Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth 2 and P&O's Canberra were among the merchant vessels drafted in as a troop carrier and hospital ship. In total, 255 British military personnel, 649 Argentines, and three Falkland Islanders were killed during the conflict. Argentina still maintains its claims to the islands and a garrison of about 1,300 U.K. military personnel and civil servants is stationed there. In a referendum held in March 2013, 99.8 percent of voters declared they wished to remain under British rule.
The island receives about 40 visits a year from medium and large-sized cruise ships and is on the itineraries of a number of smaller expedition vessels. The five-month season runs from early November to the end of March. Ships anchor some way off shore and tender passengers to a jetty in Port Stanley. High winds and rough seas can occasionally prevent landings. It comes as little surprise to learn that the harbour and surrounding waters contain more 19th century shipwrecks than anywhere else in the world -- 20 are visible from the town at low tide.
Cruise ship excursion teams are anxious to warn passengers not to stray from well-trodden paths because of unexploded mines left over from 1982, though here have been no recorded cases of any civilians being injured by mines.
After a 15 to 20-minute tender ride, passengers disembark at the jetty, a few steps from the visitor centre in the middle of the waterfront.
The Visitor's Centre is directly across from the tender dock; inside are international telephones and internet stations, as well as maps and access to island tours. There are also several shops within a few steps of the dock, and a pub, the Globe Tavern, located less than a block away.
The weather. Falkland islanders may boast their climate is milder than you might expect, but it can get windy, cold, and wet -- very quickly. Be prepared for four seasons in one day and don't get caught without waterproofs or you could soon be scurrying back to the ship. Look out for lamb -- in sandwiches or roast lunches. If you're eating ashore, then eat local rather than running up food miles with the frozen meals lined up in Stanley's busy West Store supermarket.
On Foot: The town of Stanley is easily walkable. Free maps and guides are available from the visitor centre in a number of languages. There are several shops and cafes within yards, and a stroll along Ross Road takes visitors to the cathedral and further to the Standard Chartered Bank. On the promenade is displayed the mizzen mast from Isambard Kingdom Brunel's steamship Great Britain, which from 1845 to 1854 was the longest passenger ship in the world. The ship ended its working life when it was scuttled in the Falklands in 1937. It was rescued in 1970 and is now a tourist attraction in Bristol, England.
Taxis: are available from the visitor centre; a tour of Stanley and a short way out of town costs about £20 ($30).
The Falklands pound is on a par with U.K. sterling. Souvenir shops and cafes accept pounds and dollars. Credit cards are accepted by most establishments in Stanley, although rarely outside the town.
Resolutely English. There's one red telephone box on the jetty and more at the post office; motorists drive on the left.
Malvina House Hotel: Despite its name, this has no Argentine connections; it is claimed to be a Scots Gaelic name, after Malvina Nathalia Felton, whose father John James Felton who built the original building. The fine dining restaurant uses the best fresh local ingredients. (3 Ross Road; +500-21355).
Waterfront Hotel: This is nearby, and has a cafe during the day with dinner served in the evenings. Homemade produce is available along with coffee and fresh fruit juices. (36 Ross Road; +500-21462).
The Globe Tavern: situated opposite the jetty, this serves pub food at its finest -- fish and chips, chips with gravy, burgers, bangers and mash, washed down with British ale. On cold days, a peat fire warms the entire establishment. (Corner of Crozier Place and Philomel Street).
A little way further up the hill from the Globe Tavern, this offers specialty coffees, bagels, filled rolls, and handmade Fairtrade chocolates. Organic and gluten-free rolls and cake are available. On Friday and Saturday evenings there is a wine bar with live music. (3 Philomel Street; +500-21888; open Tuesday to Thursday, 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday 7:45 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Penguins (see also Don't Miss, below). You can't take a real one home, but there are countless opportunities for penguin souvenirs in all shapes and sizes. The Visitor Centre is packed with racks of T-shirts, sweats, hoodies and caps bearing the tourist board logo of six penguins in a row. Souvenir stores on Ross Road are packed with penguin-themed gifts from tea sets to trinkets, pictures to pencils, and from coasters to Christmas decorations. The Jane Healey range of decorated chinaware at The Harbour View Gift shop is actually quite classy.