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group of actively volcanic islets in the South Atlantic Ocean, north of the Weddell Sea and 470 miles (760 km) southeast of the island of South Georgia. They extend for 190 miles (305 km), occupy 120 square miles (310 square km), and are covered with glaciers. They are included within the British Falkland Islands as a dependency. In 1775 Captain James Cook, the British explorer, sighted the islands, which were uninhabited until 1976, when Argentine personnel, despite protests from the British government, occupied the Southern Thule group of islands. The Argentine personnel were removed by British forces in June 1982.