Administratively, both the Falkland Islands and South Georgia are overseas territories of the United Kingdom. They are mainly self-governed by a council of locally elected representatives from The Falklands capital, Stanley. The governor of the Falklands is also commissioner of the government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
There are no permanent residents on South Georgia but around one dozen officials and/or researchers work there on fixed term contracts at certain times of the year. There is an administrative centre at King Edward Point near Grytviken.
Imagine a place so far off the beaten track you have miles of stunning landscape, beaches and birdlife all to yourself. Add to this a silence broken only by birdsong and the sound of your own footsteps. You are in the beautiful Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean and approximately 650kms/400 miles from the south-eastern tip of South America. The total land area of the Falkland Islands is about half the size of Wales but with a population of just 3000.
The archipelago consists of over 700 islands. The two main islands are East and West Falkland. East Falkland is home to the capital, Stanley, and most of the islands' population. It is possible to book accommodation here as well as on some of the small islands. Cruise lines also visit.
The Falklands are teeming with the wonders of nature and wildlife; an unpolluted environment with fantastically clear blue skies, seamless horizons and vast open spaces. This is a natural paradise dotted with tiny settlements, rocky rivers and surrounded by seas of brilliant aqua greens and silvery blues.
The coastline varies from rugged coastal cliffs to long miles of undisturbed white sand beaches, interspersed with rocky headlands and large kelp forests. There are many sheltered harbours around the coast. Mount Usborne on East Falkland is the highest peak at 705metres/2312 feet.
The western islands are drier and enjoy more sunshine. The eastern islands are wetter. Ferns and tussock grass grow here. Hours of sunshine are similar to the south coast of England (over 1700 hours on average each year). A typical summer day will be windy with a blue sky and sunshine.
The Falkland Islands are the ultimate birding experience with large, easily accessible colonies of some of the world's rarest and most enchanting birds. Best known for penguins, the antics of these birds never fail to delight. Majestic King, feisty Rockhopper, raucous Gentoo and shy Magellanic penguins are easy to find with the more elusive Macaroni penguin blending into Rockhopper colonies in places. Over 70% of the world's Black-browed albatross breed around the islands.
South Georgia may fall under the jurisdiction of the Falkland Islands government but it is still some 900 miles south-east of the Falklands.
In spite of being south of the Atlantic Convergence and therefore surrounded by chilly Antarctic waters, the sea around South Georgia does not freeze and wildlife is able to live here year round. There are pockets of wildlife on the south and west coasts with headlands and bays providing shelter for large numbers of breeding seals and penguins, but the milder, north side of this island is where you want to be, where the beaches and coves are crowded with eye-catching King penguins, lithe, speedy fur seals and lolloping elephant seals. The slopes rising from said shores host nesting albatross and petrels.
South Georgia is home to 450,000 pairs of King penguins and some 1 million pairs of Macaroni penguins, not to mention thousands of Gentoos and Chinstraps. There are two endemic birds here: the South Georgia pintail and the South Georgia pipit, the latter is the only songbird on the island. Rats, introduced by whaling ships at the turn of the 20th century, have considerably reduced its habitat (steps to eradicate this and other pests are afoot) and the pipit is now confined to isolated pockets on the mainland and offshore islets that remain rodent free.