Discovery & Disputes
Britain was probably not the first one to discover the Falklands, but he was the first one to write it down. He found it to be cold, wet, and miserable, just like home. So he created a colony 1765, unaware that France had also discovered the island, and done the same a year earlier. For a while, the two were unaware of eachothers existence on the island, until there was an awkward moment where they ran into each other.
Then one day Spain showed up, and told France that a couple hundred years ago, the Pope drew a line on a map of the Americas and said that the East belongs to Portugal, and the West belongs to Spain, and that the island was in Spain's territory, and asked for her settlement. Since they were good friends, and Spain was willing to pay her, France obliged, but warned her about Britain living on the other side of the island.
Spain went to Britain's settlement, and explained the Pope. However, Britain refused to leave, and stated the Falklands belonged to him. Since she had more guns, Spain kicked him off anyway, but then Britain threatened to go to war. With no help from France, Spain gave him back his settlement, and continued to argue with him about who the island belonged to. Then some colonies in North America got a bit rowdy, so Britain had to leave his settlement to go take care of that, but left behind a plaque that said the island was still his.
So the island was in Spain's hands, until a French Guy turned on Spain, took over most of her country, and captured King Ferdinand VII. In response, many of her children in South America began vying for independence. So Spain had a little bit on her hands, and had to leave her settlement. For a couple decades, the islands were left uninhabited, except for the penguins, some fishermen, and the Gauchos.
Vernet and the American Ships
A merchant from Hamburg, living in the now-independent United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata, heard about the feral cattle roaming the Falklands, and thought it would be a good way to make some money. So he got permission from both Buenos Aires and Britain to set up trade there as a 'private venture'.
Some of America's ships then came down and started hunting whales and seals around the islands, and Vernet wasn't too happy about it. So he asked Buenos Aires for some military assistance in defending the island, but Buenos Aires told him to do it himself, gave him some weapons, and appointed him governor of the island.
Vernet seized the US ships, and arrested their crews. In response, America came down and destroyed his settlement. Britain also heard about Vernet being appointed governor, meaning the United Provinces, actually now the Argentine Confederation, were officially claiming the island as theirs. So Britain went back to the Falklands, told them about their plaque, and kicked them off the island. Britain had complete control over the Falklands, and officially made it a crown colony in 1840.
Now it's 1976, and after a couple civil wars, a new brutal military dictatorship, sponsored by the US fight against communism, has taken control in Argentina, and by 1981, this guy was in power. Argentina's economy had been struggling for a long time, and Galtieri had been unable to improve the situation. Now if you ever find yourself a brutal military dictator of a struggling South American country, and you start getting into hot water, here's a bit of advice that has been tried and tested throughout the centuries: Start a war to distract everyone from their miseries!
Galtieri knew how popular he would be if he could finally take back Argentina's Las Malvinas (Falklands in Spanish) from the occupying British. There had been proposals to cut British military spending, and the ice patrol vessel HMS Endurance had been withdrawn from the area. So Argentina assumed that Britain may not even bother doing anything about the invasion. After easily capturing the largely-uninhabited South Georgia Island, Argentina sent 600 troops to the Falklands. The small number of Royal Marines and other British Forces stationed there put up a small amount of resistance, but in the end, had to surrender to Argentina's larger force.
Argentina celebrated the news, but he was wrong to assume Britain would do nothing, because the person in charge of the UK at the time was this lady. Thatcher was a somewhat controversial prime minister, but whether you loved her or hated her, there was no denying she was tough like metal, iron for example (The Iron Lady).
Britain immediately declared an exclusion zone around the islands, and organised for a task force of over 100 ships to set sail for the Falklands. UNball expressed concern at the Argentine invasion. All South American nations, apart from Chile, backed Argentina, and since America propped up the Argentine dictatorship, he went to his father and asked him if he could maybe just give Argentina the islands. When Britain denied the idea, America decided to just follow his father and gave him some weapons and military support.
Fighting a war over 8000 miles from home was a logistical challenge for Britain. He requisitioned civilian cruise ships and containers, and used British-owned Ascension Island as a forward base. By the time he arrived at the Falklands in May, Argentina had time to entrench themselves. The first task for Britain was to gain control of the sea, which he did easily. On the 2nd of May, Britain sank an Argentine cruiser, which was controversial, as it occused outside the British Exclusion Zone. In response, Argentina's navy withdrew from the island.
The next task was for Britain to gain air superiority. While Argentina's Air force controlled the skies, they were able to inflict considerable damage on the Royal Navy below. Days after the sinking of the General Belgrano, two Argentine Super Étendards carried out a raid on the HMS Sheffield , and sank it with an Exocet missile. For weeks, the Argentine Air Force would continue to carry out raids and inflict heavy casualties on the Royal Navy. With British Sea Harriers doing their best to take out as many of the Argentina Aircraft as they could. While the battle in the skies raged on, San Carlos was chosen as the best landing site for Britain's ground forces. An SAS raid took out Argentine defences in Pebble Island, and the HMS Alacrity sailed through Falklands down to flush out any Argentine supply ships.
The landings began on May 21st, with Argentine aircraft carrying out full-scale raids on the task force ships taking part in the landing, damaging several, and sinking a few. However, anti aircraft cannons and sea Harriers shot down many of the aircraft in what became a major turning point for air superiority, and the beach head was successfully formed.
The ground troops began their movement out of San Carlos, across the North towards Stanley , and South toward the Argentine Stronghold at Goose Green. In the following battles, a clear trend emerged. Argentina's conscripts put up a good fight, and with the rough, muddy terrain, the war was by no means easy for Britain. With highly skilled Royal Marine Commanders and Parachute Regiment troops however, Britain would often find himself taking on larger numbers of Argentina's soldiers, and would still come out victorious with minimal casualties.
The 14 hour long Battle for Goose Green commenced on the night of May 28th. The battle ended with a decisive British victory, with over 900 of Argentina's troops surrendering. Then, with 5000 reinforcements arriving from the 5th infantry brigade, Britain started preparing for his final assult on Stanley. In a series of hard-fought battles, he took control of the hills and mountains surrounding the town. As Argentina's forces withdrew, with British ships shelling their positions from offshore, utterly surrounded, on the 14th of June, Argentina surrendered, and the war was over.
The two month-long war claimed hundreds of lives, and left the islands strewn with minefields that still pose a problem today. Though Argentina still claims the islands, a referendum in 2013 was held, and the islanders vote 99.8% in favor of remaining British. Plus, oil was just found near the islands, so Britain probably won't give them up anytime soon.