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Antarctica - Country facts

Map

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Flag

Capital

no indigenous inhabitants, but t

Currency

no indigenous inhabitants, but t

Internet Code

.aq

Location

continent mostly south of the Antarctic Circle

Background

Speculation over the existence of a "southern land" was not confirmed until the early 1820s when British and American commercial operators and British and Russian national expeditions began exploring the Antarctic Peninsula region and other areas south of the Antarctic Circle. Not until 1840 was it established that Antarctica was indeed a continent and not just a group of islands. Several exploration "firsts" were achieved in the early 20th century. Following World War II, there was an upsurge in scientific research on the continent. A number of countries have set up year-round research stations on Antarctica. Seven have made territorial claims, but not all countries recognize these claims. In order to form a legal framework for the activities of nations on the continent, an Antarctic Treaty was negotiated that neither denies nor gives recognition to existing territorial claims; signed in 1959, it entered into force in 1961.

Climate

severe low temperatures vary with latitude, elevation, and distance from the ocean; East Antarctica is colder than West Antarctica because of its higher elevation; Antarctic Peninsula has the most moderate climate; higher temperatures occur in January along the coast and average slightly below freezing

Terrain

about 98% thick continental ice sheet and 2% barren rock, with average elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 meters; mountain ranges up to nearly 5,000 meters; ice-free coastal areas include parts of southern Victoria Land, Wilkes Land, the Antarctic Peninsu

Population

no indigenous inhabitants, but there are both permanent and summer-only staffed research stations
note: 26 nation

Ethnic Groups

about 98% thick continental ice sheet and 2% barren rock, with average elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 meters; mountain ranges up to nearly 5,000 meters; ice-free coastal areas include parts of southern Victoria Land, Wilkes Land, the Antarctic Peninsula area, and parts of Ross Island on McMurdo Sound; glaciers form ice shelves along about half of the coastline, and floating ice shelves constitute 11% of the area of the continent

Religions

no indigenous inhabitants, but there are both permanent and summer-only staffed research stations
note: 26 nations, all signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, operate seasonal (summer) and year-round research stations on the continent and in it

Languages

no indigenous inhabitants, but there are both permanent and summer-only staffed research stations
note: 26 nations, all signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, operate seasonal (summer) and year-round research stations on the continent and in its surrounding oceans; the population of persons doing and supporting science on the continent and its nearby islands south of 60 degrees south latitude (the region covered by the Antarctic Treaty) varies from approximately 4,000 in summer to 1,000 in winter; in addition, approximately 1,000 personnel including ship's crew and scientists doing onboard research are present in the waters of the treaty region; summer (January) population - 3,687 total; Argentina 302, Australia 201, Belgium 13, Brazil 80, Bulgaria 16, Chile 352, China 70, Finland 11, France 100, Germany 51, India 60, Italy 106, Japan 136, South Korea 14, Netherlands 10, NZ 60, Norway 40, Peru 28, Poland 70, Russia 254, South Africa 80, Spain 43, Sweden 20, UK 192, US 1,378 (1998-99); winter (July) population - 964 total; Argentina 165, Australia 75, Brazil 12, Chile 129, China 33, France 33, Germany 9, India 25, Japan 40, South Korea 14, NZ 10, Poland 20, Russia 102, South Africa 10, UK 39, US 248 (1998-99); research stations operated within the Antarctic Treaty area (south of 60 degrees south) by members of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP): year-round stations - 38 total; Argentina 6, Australia 3, Brazil 1, Chile 4, China 2, France 1, Germany 1, India 1, Japan 1, South Korea 1, NZ 1, Poland 1, Russia 6, South Africa 1, Ukraine 1, UK 2, US 3, Uruguay 1, Italy and France jointly 1 (2005); summer-only stations - 34 total; Argentina 8, Australia 2, Bulgaria 1, Chile 5, Ecuador 1, Finland 1, Germany 2, Italy 1, Japan 3, Norway 2, Peru 1, Russia 2, South Africa 1, Spain 2, Sweden 1, UK 1 (2004-2005); in addition, during the austral summer some nations have numerous occupied locations such as tent camps, summer-long temporary facilities, and mobile traverses in support of research

Map of Antarctica


Government Antarctica
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