Falkland Islanders, also called Falklanders and nicknamed Kelpers, are the people of the British overseas territory of the Falkland Islands.
The Islanders are British, albeit with a distinct identity of their own:
British cultural, economic, social, political and educational values create a unique British-like, Falkland Islands. Yet Islanders feel distinctly different from their fellow citizens who reside in the United Kingdom. This might have something to do with geographical isolation or with living on a smaller island â" perhaps akin to those British people not feeling European. (Lewis Clifton OBE, Speaker of the Falklands Legislative Council)
They also see themselves as no different from other immigrant nations including those of neighbouring South America:
We are as much a people as those in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile and many other South American countries whose inhabitants are of principally European, Indigenous or African descent. (Councillor Mike Summers OBE)
Kelpers is a nickname given to Falkland Islanders because the islands are surrounded by large seaweeds called kelp.
The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.
The 2006 census returns gave the population of the Falkland Islands, excluding military personnel and their families, but including staff working at the Mount Pleasant military base to be 2955. There were 1569 males and 1386 females giving a male to female ratio of 1.13:1. This imbalance is most notable in the 40 - 60 age group.
The population was estimated to be 3105 in July 2007 and the population growth rate was estimated to be 2.44%.
With retrospective effect from 1 January 1983, as provided in the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983, the Falkland Islanders have been full British citizens. From the Argentine position, the Falklanders are Argentine citizens and may request an Argentine birth certificate, Documento Nacional de Identidad, and Argentine passport, if they wish so.
About 70 percent are of British descent, primarily as a result of Scottish and Welsh immigration to the islands. The native-born inhabitants call themselves "Islanders"; the term "Kelpers", from the kelp which grows profusely around the islands, is no longer used in the Islands. People from the United Kingdom who have obtained Falkland Island status are known locally as 'belongers'.
A few Islanders are of French, Gibraltarian, Portuguese and Scandinavian descent. Some are the descendants of whalers who reached the Islands during the last two centuries. There is also a small minority of South American, mainly Chilean origin, and in more recent times many people from Saint Helena have also come to work and live in the Islands.
The most predominant religion is Christianity, of which the primary denominations are Church of England, Roman Catholic, United Free Church, and Lutheran. Smaller numbers are Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists and Greek Orthodox; with the latter being due to Greek fishermen passing through. There is also a BahÃ¡'Ã congregation. The islands are the home of the Apostolic Prefecture of the Falkland Islands.
The official language of the islands is English. The Falklands English vernacular has a fair amount of borrowed Spanish words (often modified or corrupted); they are particularly numerous, indeed dominant in the local horse-related terminology. For instance, the Islanders use âalizanâ, âcoloraoâ, ânegroâ, âblancoâ, âgotiaoâ, âpicassoâ, âsarcoâ, ârabincanaâ etc. for certain horse colours and looks, or âbosalâ, âcabrestaâ, âbastosâ, âcinchâ, âconjinillaâ, âmeletasâ, âtientasâ, âmanaresâ etc. for various items of horse gear.
There are more than 30 different sports clubs on the Falklands, including badminton, clay-pigeon shooting, cricket, football, golf, hockey, netball, rugby union, sailing, swimming, table tennis and volleyball. The Falklands compete in the Commonwealth Games and in the biennial Island Games. Louis Baillon is the only Falkland Islander to have become an Olympic champion, as a member of the British field hockey team which won a gold medal in 1908.