The continent of Antarctica is centred on the southern front of Antarctic Circle. It spreads over an area of 13,209,000 sq km. Antarctica occupies 8.9% of the earth’s land area. 98% of Antarctica is solid ice and it got the recognition of a continent in 1840. It comprises of Bouvet islands, French southern territories, heard islands, McDonald islands, south Georgia and the South Sandwich islands. Due to its high altitudes and tough climatic conditions Antarctica is inhabited in summer season only. It is the coldest continent in the world. During winter temperature ranges from -40º to -94ºF.
Officially the population of Antarctica is zero, as it doesn’t have any permanent inhabitants. But thousands of tourists visit the continent every year.
Facts about Antarctica
- Among the seven continents of the world, Antarctica ranks fifth in size though it occupies the last position in population.
- The continent is encircled by the southern Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans.
- The highest point of the continent, Vinson Massif which is 16,066 ft high is located in the Ellsworth Mountains.
- The lowest point is Bentley Sub glacial Trench which is -2,55m.
- Though the famous Antarctic Treaty prohibits any military activity in Antarctica, countries like Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Norway, UK etc. are interested in the territorial division of Antarctica.
- The major environmental issue concerning Antarctica is its ozone depletion. Studies indicate that the Ozone layer above Antarctica which protects earth from ultra violet radiations is seriously affected.
- The landforms of Antarctica include glaciers, icebergs, mountains, valleys, ice caves etc.
- Antarctica includes more than 70 lakes. The major ones are Ablation Lake, Basalt Lake, Concordia sub glacial lake, Lake Burton, Lake Glubokoye etc.
- The major islands of the continent include Alexander Island, Thurston Island, Deception Island and Ross Island. The last two have active volcanoes in them.
- Mount Erebus, the world's southernmost active volcano is located on Ross Islands of Antarctica. Deception Island also has a volcano which erupted in 1970.
- Recently American and Canadian researchers located an underwater volcano in the Antarctic Peninsula.