The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about 300 miles (480 km) east of South America’s southern Patagonian coast, at a latitude of about 52°S. The archipelago, with an area of 4,700 square miles (12,000 km2), comprises East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 smaller islands. The Falkland Islands are a biogeographical part of the mild Antarctic zone, with strong connections to the flora and fauna of Patagonia in mainland South America. Land birds make up most of the Falklands’ avifauna; 63 species breed on the islands, including 16 endemicspecies. There is also abundant arthropod diversity on the islands.
The islands are frequented by marine mammals such as the southern elephant seal, the South American fur seal, various cetaceans; the rare striated caracara, five different penguin species and a few of the largest albatross colonies on the planet. The Falklands are treeless and have a wind-resistant vegetation predominantly composed of a variety of dwarf shrubs.