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Falkland Islands, The Land

East Falkland, white quartzite, chief town, forestation, main islands

Geologically, the Falkland Islands are a part of Patagonia in Argentina, being connected with the mainland by a raised submarine plateau. East Falkland is divided by two deep fjords and is traversed in the north by Wickham Heights, which rise in Mount Usborne to 705 m (2,313 ft) above sea level. The remainder of the terrain is low and rolling, forming either marshlands or grazing pastures. West Falkland is hilly, especially in the east, where the Hornby Mountains (including Mount Adam, 700 m/ 2,300 ft above sea level) extend parallel to Falkland Sound. The low-lying areas of the Falklands are composed of clay, slate, and soft sandstone, and the hills and ridges are formed of hard sandstone and white quartzite. Some galena, with a high percentage of silver, is found on the islands. Fine white sand, suitable for glassmaking, and fairly large peat deposits are also located here. The temperature varies from an average of 3 C (37 F) in the winter to 8 C (47 F) in the summer. The humidity is constantly high, with rainfall approximately 250 days of the year, November being the only nearly dry month. The Falklands are to a large extent windswept, and the terrain is almost devoid of trees. Attempts at forestation have not met with success. The shores of the main islands are deeply indented, providing numerous sheltered harbors. A lighthouse is maintained at Cape Pembroke, East Falkland, near Stanley (1991 population, 1,557), the chief town and main port. The total population of the islands was estimated to be 2,317 in 1995. An airport is located near Stanley.



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