Deal with it: Argentina's aggressive stance has galvanised and cemented patriotic fervour on the islands
Falkland Islanders started voting yesterday in a sovereignty referendum seeking to counter Argentina’s claim over the British-ruled territory.
Diplomatic tension between Britain and Argentina has flared more than three decades after the Falklands War.
Falklands-born and long-term residents will cast ballots on whether they want to stay a British Overseas Territory.
Choice: People line up to cast their vote on the islands' future at the Town Hall polling station in the Falklands capital of Stanley
Wonder how he'll vote? One islander make his allegiance clear with a Union Flag suit as he casts his vote
A high turnout is expected from among the islands’ population of roughly 2,500, and officials are due to announce the result tonight.
An overwhelming 'yes’ vote is likely, prompting Argentina to dismiss the referendum as a publicity stunt.
But John Fowler, deputy editor of the islands’ weekly newspaper, the Penguin News, said: 'We hope the undecideds, or the uninformeds, or those countries that might otherwise be prepared to give the nod to Argentina’s sovereignty claim, might have pause for thought after the referendum.
'This is an attempt to say 'hang on a minute, there’s another side to the story'.'
The Falkland Islands Government has mobilised a major effort to get as many of its 1,650 registered voters as possible to cast their secret ballots today and tomorrow
A long convoy of vehicles bearing British flags and stickers in favour of keeping the Falkland Islands as an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. One vehicle even had the words "Leeds United" emblazoned on the side.
People queued to vote at the town hall in the capital Stanley, nearly 8,000 miles from London, where posters proclaim: 'Our Islands, Our Choice’.
'I have no wish to be part of Argentina,’ said Rob McGill, 67, of isolated Carcass Island, who voted by post.
'I consider myself a Falkland Islander, but my ancestors came from Britain,' he said.
The post office produced a line of official stamps to mark the occasion.
In distant islands and far-flung sheep farms, ballot papers were being flown and driven in by mobile polling stations.
Poll: Resident Terry Spruce stands waiting for his turn to vote outside a polling station in Port Stanley
United: A couple arrives with a pram covered with the Union Jack to cast their vote
Some islanders are the descendants of British settlers who arrived eight or nine generations ago and the Falklands retain an unmistakably British character despite a sizeable community of immigrants from Chile and Saint Helena.
Residents say fiery remarks by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman, have galvanised patriotic sentiment on the islands, which lie nearly 8,000 miles from London and just a 75-minute flight away from southern Argentina.
Patriot: Falkland Islands flags, featuring a British flag, were seen all over Stanley in a show of support
British and proud: Falkland Islander Vivian Vienna (left) shows off a t-shirt that removes Argentina from South America as she lines up to cast her vote. Joan Turner (right) wore a dress with the colours of the Falkland Islands flag
Read more: Falkland Islanders cast their vote on British identity while Buenos Aires brushes off historic referendum as 'publicity stunt' | Mail Online