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Published by Vinod Bhaskar

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Published by: Vinod Bhaskar on Sep 26, 2011
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This map uses an orthographic projection, near-polar aspect. The South Pole is near the center, where longitudinal lines converge.
Area (Overall)(ice-free)(ice-covered)
14,000,000 km
(5,400,000 sq mi)
280,000 km
(100,000 sq mi)13,720,000 km
(5,300,000 sq mi)
7th0approx. 1,000
DependenciesOfficial Territorial claimsAntarctic Treaty SystemReserved the right to make claimsTime Zones
(Graham Land only)
Internet Top-level domain
Calling Code
Dependent on the parent country of each base. (One such is +672.)
Adelie Penguin chicks in Antarctica, with MS
and an iceberg in the background
(pronounced /æn
 / or
English pronunciation:
is Earth's southernmost continent,encapsulating the South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle,and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.0 million km
(5.4million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa,North America, and South America. For comparison: Antarctica isnearly twice the size of Australia. About 98% of Antarctica is coveredby ice that averages at least 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) in thickness.Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent,and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.
Antarctica is considered a desert, with annualprecipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland.
The temperature in Antarctica hasreached
89 °C (
129 °F). There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people residethroughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Only cold-adapted organisms survivethere, including many types of algae, animals (for example mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades),bacteria, fungi, plants, and protista. Vegetation where it occurs is tundra.
Antarctica2Although myths and speculation about a
Terra Australis
("Southern Land") dateback to antiquity, thefirst confirmed sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. The continent, however, remained largely neglected forthe rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of resources, and isolation. The Antarctic Treatywas signed in 1959 by 12 countries; to date, 47 countries have signed the treaty. The treaty prohibits militaryactivities and mineral mining, prohibits nuclear blasts and power, supports scientific research, and protects thecontinent's ecozone. Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists of many nationalities andwith various research interests.
The first formal use of the name "Antarctica" as a continental name in the 1890s is attributed to the Scottishcartographer John George Bartholomew. The name
is the romanized version of the Greek compoundword
), feminine of 
meaning "opposite to the Arctic", "oppositeto the north".
The snow surface at Dome C Station is typical of most of the continent's surface.An iceberg dwarfs a ship in this 1920s Englishmagazine illustration of a whaler in the Antarctic.
Belief in the existence of a
Terra Australis
a vast continent in the farsouth of the globe to "balance" the northern lands of Europe, Asia andNorth Africa
has existed since the times of Ptolemy (1st centuryAD), who suggested the idea to preserve the symmetry of all knownlandmasses in the world. Even in the late 17th century, after explorershad found that South America and Australia were not part of the fabled"Antarctica", geographers believed that the continent was much largerthan its actual size.European maps continued to show this hypothetical land until CaptainJames Cook's ships, HMS
, crossed theAntarctic Circle on 17 January 1773, in December 1773 and again inJanuary 1774.
Cook in fact came within about 75 miles (121 km) of the Antarctic coast before retreating in the face of field ice in January1773.
The first confirmed sighting of Antarctica can be narroweddown to the crews of ships captained by three individuals. Accordingto various organizations (the National Science Foundation,
the University of California, San Diego,
and othersources),
ships captained by three men sighted Antarctica in1820: Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (an Estonian-born captain inthe Imperial Russian Navy), Edward Bransfield (a Ireland-born captainin the Royal Navy), and Nathaniel Palmer (an American sealer out of Stonington, Connecticut). Von Bellingshausen saw Antarctica on 27January 1820, three days before Bransfield sighted land, and tenmonths before Palmer did so in November 1820. On that day thetwo-ship expedition led by Von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarevreached a point within 32 kilometers (20 mi) of the Antarctic mainlandand saw ice fields there. The first documented landing on mainlandAntarctica was by the American sealer John Davis in West Antarcticaon 7 February 1821, although some historians dispute this claim.
Antarctica3In December 1839, as part of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838
42 conducted by the United StatesNavy (sometimes called the "Ex. Ex.", or "the Wilkes Expedition"), an expedition sailed from Sydney, Australia,into the Antarctic Ocean, as it was then known, and reported the discovery "of an Antarctic continent west of theBalleny Islands". That part of Antarctica was later named "Wilkes Land", a name it maintains to this day.Explorer James Clark Ross passed through what is now known as the Ross Sea and discovered Ross Island (both of which were named for him) in 1841. He sailed along a huge wall of ice that was later named the Ross Ice Shelf (alsonamed for him). Mount Erebus and Mount Terror are named after two ships from his expedition: HMS
Mercator Cooper landed in East Antarctica on 26 January 1853.
[17]Nimrod Expedition South Pole Party (left toright): Wild, Shackleton, Marshall and Adams
During the Nimrod Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton in 1907,parties led by Edgeworth David became the first to climb MountErebus and to reach the South Magnetic Pole. Douglas Mawson, whoassumed the leadership of the Magnetic Pole party on their perilousreturn, went on to lead several expeditions until retiring in 1931.
Inaddition, Shackleton himself and three other members of his expeditionmade several firsts in December 1908
February 1909: they were thefirst humans to traverse the Ross Ice Shelf, the first to traverse theTransantarctic Mountain Range (via the Beardmore Glacier), and thefirst to set foot on the South Polar Plateau. An expedition led byNorwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen from the ship
became the first to reach the geographic South Pole on 14 December1911, using a route from the Bay of Whales and up the Axel Heiberg Glacier.
One month later, the ill-fated ScottExpedition reached the pole.Richard E. Byrd led several voyages to the Antarctic by plane in the 1930s and 1940s. He is credited withimplementing mechanized land transport on the continent and conducting extensive geological and biologicalresearch.
However, it was not until 31 October 1956 that anyone set foot on the South Pole again; on that day aU.S. Navy group led by Rear Admiral George J. Dufek successfully landed an aircraft there.
The first person to sail single-handed to Antarctica was the New Zealander David Henry Lewis, in a 10-meter steelsloop
 Ice Bird 

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