PORT STANLEY, Falkland Islands, March 12 (UPI) —
More than 90 percent of Falkland islanders eligible to vote in a referendum have decided to remain British, officials said Monday.
Turnout was high with 92 percent of the 1,649 eligible voters getting to the polls Sunday and Monday, The Independent reported. Only three people voted to sever ties with Britain, while 1,514 voted to keep the status quo, a 99.8 percent victory.
The results were greeted with a street party in Port Stanley, the Falklands capital and home to a majority of its residents. Residents turned out in stormy weather to sing "God Save the Queen."
The islands were discovered by Europeans in the 16th century and claimed by a number of nations, including England and Spain. In 1833, Britain ousted an Argentine garrison, ending a short-lived attempt to turn the islands into a penal colony.
Argentina disputed sovereignty in the late 20th century, leading to the 1982 Falklands War. More recently, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has asserted the Argentine claim before the United Nations.
Falklanders hope to use the referendum vote as a public relations tool.
"The point of this referendum was not for islanders to know what they feel. The message here is for the outside world," said Barry Elsby, a member of the Falklands legislature. "Argentina has told the world we don’t exist but we have tonight made our views clear in the most emphatic manner possible. Argentina is afraid of this referendum because it shows that we have a voice on the international stage."