Fires in East Falkland Island in the South Atlantic Ocean are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 15 crewmember on the International Space Station. The Falkland Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, referred to by Argentina (which also claims the islands) as the Islas Malvinas. The main islands of East Falkland and West Falkland are separated by Falkland Sound (12 kilometers) wide at the narrow point. Together they total about the same area as the State of Connecticut or Northern Ireland. The islands lie almost 500 kilometers from the Argentine coast and less than 1,000 kilometers from Antarctica. The first air links to these remote islands were only put in place in 1971. The capital city of Stanley lies on the eastern tip of East Falkland. The local inhabitants are mainly English speakers, and interestingly, the islands have become a center of English-language learning for students from South America. The windy and relatively dry climate has given rise to natural vegetation comprised of treeless grassland with scattered bogs. The grasslands are ideal for sheep rearing which was the dominant occupation until recent decades, when fishing (mainly squid to Spain) and tourism became the mainstay of the economy. These expanses of grassland provide ready fuel for fires, as indicated by the several long smoke plumes visible in this image.
Image credit: NASA
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