The Falkland Islands have only had a stable settlement since the early 1840s. Following an initial period of dependence on shipping and sealing, from the late 1860s until the mid-1980s, sheep farming for wool was the main revenue source in the islands. In 1867, sheep farming began to make headway on West Falkland and by 1874 the principal occupation of the Falkland Islands was officially described as ‘sheep farming’. In 1850 there were an estimated 7650 sheep in the islands and this figure rose to 435 700 by 1880 and to a peak of 807 000 in 1898. This population was probably too large, and overgrazing of the better pastures may have led to the reduction in numbers of sheep after the turn of the century. The population declined steadily until 1923 when it reached a level of about 630 000 sheep, and approximately this number has been maintained to the present day.
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- Agricultural and Fisheries Development in the Falkland Islands
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