Earth’s southernmost continent, Antarctica surrounds the South Pole. It is surrounded by Antarctic Ocean, and is situated in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere. It is the fifth largest continent of the world and about 98% of its area is covered with ice that is about 1.6 km in thickness on an average. It is the coldest, driest and windiest continent and is considered as a desert with annual rainfall of only 8 inches along the coast and lesser in the island. There are no permanent inhabitants to speak of but at any given point of time, there are 1000 to 5000 people residing here to carry out researches.


Antarctica Information

  • Area (Overall)
  • (ice-free)
  • (ice-covered)
  • 14,000,000 km2 (5,400,000 sq mi)
  • 280,000 km2 (100,000 sq mi)
  • 1
  • 3,720,000 km2 (5,300,000 sq mi)
approx. 1,000
Dependencies 4
  • Bouvet Island
  • French Southern Territories
  • Heard Island and McDonald Islands
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Official Territorial Claims Antarctic Treaty System 8
  • Adelie Land
  • Antártica
  • Argentine Antarctica
  • Australian Antarctic Territory
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • Queen Maud Land
  • Peter I Island
  • Ross Dependency
Unofficial Territorial Claims 1 ( Brazilian Antarctica)
Reserved the Rright to Make Claims 2
  • Russian Federation
  • United States of America
Time Zones None
UTC-3 (Graham Land only)
Internet Top Level Domain .aq
Calling Code Dependent on the parent country of each base. (One such is +672.)


Antarctica Iceburg

The Past of Antarctica

Antarctica’s history is believed to be emerged from western theories discussing a vast continent that goes by the name of Terra Australis which was believed to have existed in the far south. The name Antarctic basically refers to the opposite of Arctic Circle. The name was put forward by Marinus of Tyre in the 2nd century AD.

It was proved that Terra Australis Incognita, that is, unknown southern land was a continent when the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn were rounded in the 15th and 16th centuries. James Cook crossed the Antarctic Circle in the year 1773. He was able to catch sight of many nearby islands but was unable to discover Antarctica itself. The first landing on Antarctica is believed to be made by an American Captain John Davis who was a sailor. Several expeditions soon followed.

Facts About Antarctica

It is the fifth biggest continent and covers 10% of Earth’s land area. Its total area is 14 million square kilometer. Only 2% of its area is not covered with ice. Because of the weight of its ice sheets, Antarctica is pushed into the earth. It would “spring back” 500 meters if they melted. To find meteorites, Antarctica is the best place as dark meteorites show up against the white cover of ice and snow. Ice flows concentrates meteorites at some places. In “dry valleys” region of Antarctica, it has not rained for at least 2 million years. In the year 2000, one of the biggest icebergs ever broke free from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

Antarctica Penguin

Weather & Climatic Conditions of Antarctica

A unique weather and climatic situations are prevalent in Antarctica. The climate is coldest in Antarctica in the entire world. It has the lowest naturally occurring temperatures ever recorded on the Earth - -89.2 degree centigrade at Vostok Station. It is extremely dry and hence also referred to as a desert because of average precipitation of 166 mm in a year. Ice Cap climate is seen in most of the Antarctica with very cold and extremely dry weather throughout the year.

Things to Spot & Activities to Perform in Antarctica

One can go and enjoy kayaking in Antarctica and have a bird’s eye view of glistening blue tinted ice. Camping is also possible at times if the weather permits. On Deception Island, dip can be taken in the thermal waters. Volcanoes can also be visited. Dry valleys where it has not rained in about 2 million years is also a tourist attraction. Wildlife is present in their full glory. Watching penguins diving and playing is a mesmerizing experience.

Coastal Types Around Antarctica (Drewry, 1983)

Type Frequency
Ice shelf (floating ice front) 44%
Ice walls (resting on ground) 38%
Ice stream/outlet glacier (ice front or ice wall) 13%
Rock 5%
Total 100%

Antarctic Territories

Date Country Territory Claim limits
1908 United Kingdom British Antarctic Territory 20°W to 80°W
1923 New Zealand New Zealand Ross Dependency 150°W to 160°E
1924 France Adélie Land 142°2'E to 136°11'E
1929 Norway  Peter I Island 68°50′S 90°35′W
1933 Australia Australian Antarctic Territory 160°E to 142°2'E and
136°11'E to 44°38'E
1939 Norway  Queen Maud Land 44°38'E to 20°W
1940 Chile Antártica 53°W to 90°W
1943 Argentina Argentine Antarctica 25°W to 74°W
None Unclaimed territory
(Marie Byrd Land)
90°W to 150°W
(except the Peter I Island)