Last updated
The Antarctic region with the Antarctic Convergence and the 60th parallel south Antarctic-Overview-Map-EN.tif
The Antarctic region with the Antarctic Convergence and the 60th parallel south

The Antarctic (US English /æntˈɑːrktɪk/ , UK English /ænˈtɑːrktɪk/ or /æntˈɑːrtɪk/ and /ænˈtɑːrtɪk/ or /ænˈɑːrtɪk/ ) [Note 1] is a polar region around the Earth's South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole. The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica, the Kerguelen Plateau and other island territories located on the Antarctic Plate or south of the Antarctic Convergence. The Antarctic region includes the ice shelves, waters, and all the island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence, a zone approximately 32 to 48 km (20 to 30 mi) wide varying in latitude seasonally. [4] The region covers some 20 percent of the Southern Hemisphere, of which 5.5 percent (14 million km2) is the surface area of the Antarctic continent itself. All of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude are administered under the Antarctic Treaty System. Biogeographically, the Antarctic realm is one of eight biogeographic realms of the Earth's land surface.



The Antarctic (without its periphery, a composite satellite image) Antarctica 6400px from Blue Marble.jpg
The Antarctic (without its periphery, a composite satellite image)
The Antarctic Plate AntarcticPlate.png
The Antarctic Plate
Anthony de la Roche's and other early voyages in the Southern Ocean Expeditions in Antarctica before 1897.svg
Anthony de la Roché's and other early voyages in the Southern Ocean

The maritime part of the region constitutes the area of application of the international Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), where for technical reasons the Convention uses an approximation of the Convergence line by means of a line joining specified points along parallels of latitude and meridians of longitude. [5] The implementation of the Convention is managed through an international Commission headquartered in Hobart, Australia, by an efficient system of annual fishing quotas, licenses and international inspectors on the fishing vessels, as well as satellite surveillance.

Most of the Antarctic region is situated south of 60°S latitude parallel, and is governed in accordance with the international legal regime of the Antarctic Treaty System. [6] The Treaty area covers the continent itself and its immediately adjacent islands, as well as the archipelagos of the South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, Peter I Island, Scott Island and Balleny Islands.

The islands situated between 60°S latitude parallel to the south and the Antarctic Convergence to the north, and their respective 200-nautical-mile (370 km) exclusive economic zones fall under the national jurisdiction of the countries that possess them: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (United Kingdom; also an EU Overseas territory), Bouvet Island (Norway), and Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia).

Kerguelen Islands (France; also an EU Overseas territory) are situated in the Antarctic Convergence area, while the Falkland Islands, Isla de los Estados, Hornos Island with Cape Horn, Diego Ramírez Islands, Campbell Island, Macquarie Island, Amsterdam and Saint Paul Islands, Crozet Islands, Prince Edward Islands, and Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha group remain north of the Convergence and thus outside the Antarctic region.


A variety of animals live in Antarctica for at least some of the year, including: [7] [8]

Most of the Antarctic continent is permanently covered by ice and snow, leaving less than 1 percent of the land exposed. There are only two species of flowering plant, Antarctic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwort, but a range of mosses, liverworts, lichens and macrofungi. [9]


The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, the geographic South Pole is signposted in the background SPSM.05.jpg
The Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, the geographic South Pole is signposted in the background
Grytviken Museum in South Georgia Grytviken museum.jpg
Grytviken Museum in South Georgia

The first Antarctic land discovered was the island of South Georgia, visited by the English merchant Anthony de la Roché in 1675. Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") date back to antiquity, the first confirmed sighting of the continent of Antarctica is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev on Vostok and Mirny . The first human born in the Antarctic was Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen born on 8 October 1913 in Grytviken, South Georgia.

The Antarctic region had no indigenous population when first discovered, and its present inhabitants comprise a few thousand transient scientific and other personnel working on tours of duty at the several dozen research stations maintained by various countries. However, the region is visited by more than 40,000 [10] tourists annually, the most popular destinations being the Antarctic Peninsula area (especially the South Shetland Islands) and South Georgia Island.

In December 2009, the growth of tourism, with consequences for both the ecology and the safety of the travellers in its great and remote wilderness, was noted at a conference in New Zealand by experts from signatories to the Antarctic Treaty. The definitive results of the conference was presented at the Antarctic Treaty states' meeting in Uruguay in May 2010. [11]


Moubray Bay and Mount Herschel, Eastern Antarctica Mt Herschel, Antarctica, Jan 2006.jpg
Moubray Bay and Mount Herschel, Eastern Antarctica

The Antarctic hosts the world's largest protected area comprising 1.07 million km2, the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Marine Protection Area created in 2012. [12] The latter exceeds the surface area of another vast protected territory, the Greenland National Park’s 972,000 km2. [13] (While the Ross Sea Marine Protection Area established in 2016 is still larger at 1.55 million km2, [14] its protection is set to expire in 35 years. [15] )

Time zones

Because Antarctica surrounds the South Pole, it is theoretically located in all time zones. For practical purposes, time zones are usually based on territorial claims or the time zone of a station's owner country or supply base.

Offshore islands

Norwegian Cruise Ship at Petermann Island, with the Kiev Peninsula of Graham Land in the background

See also


  1. The word was originally pronounced without the first /k/, but the spelling pronunciation has become common and is often considered more correct. The pronunciation without the first k sound and the first t sound is however widespread and a typical phenomenon of English in many other similar words too. [1] The "c" was added to the spelling for etymological reasons and then began to be pronounced, but (as with other spelling pronunciations) at first only by less educated people. [2] [3]

Related Research Articles

Antarctic Treaty System international treaties concerning Antarctica.

The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. The treaty entered into force in 1961 and currently has 54 parties. The treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation, and bans military activity on the continent. The treaty was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War. Since September 2004, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat headquarters has been located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

History of Antarctica Past events regarding the continent of Antarctica

The history of Antarctica emerges from early Western theories of a vast continent, known as Terra Australis, believed to exist in the far south of the globe. The term Antarctic, referring to the opposite of the Arctic Circle, was coined by Marinus of Tyre in the 2nd century AD.

Balleny Islands island group

The Balleny Islands are a series of uninhabited islands in the Southern Ocean extending from 66°15' to 67°35'S and 162°30' to 165°00'E. The group extends for about 160 km (99 mi) in a northwest-southeast direction. The islands are heavily glaciated and of volcanic origin. Glaciers project from their slopes into the sea. The islands were formed by the so-called Balleny hotspot.

British Antarctic Territory British Overseas Territory in United Kingdom

The British Antarctic Territory (BAT) is a sector of Antarctica claimed by the United Kingdom as one of its 14 British Overseas Territories, of which it is by far the largest by area. It comprises the region south of 60°S latitude and between longitudes 20°W and 80°W, forming a wedge shape that extends to the South Pole, overlapping the Antarctic claims of Argentina and Chile.

Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources

The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, also known as the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, and CCAMLR, is part of the Antarctic Treaty System.

Patagonian toothfish species of fish

The Patagonian toothfish is a species of notothen found in cold waters between depths of 45 and 3,850 m in the southern Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans and Southern Ocean on seamounts and continental shelves around most Subantarctic islands.

Polar regions of Earth regions around the Earths geographical poles

The polar regions, also called the frigid zones, of Earth are the regions of the planet that surround its geographical poles, lying within the polar circles. These high latitudes are dominated by floating sea ice covering much of the Arctic ocean in the north, and by the Antarctic ice sheet on the continent of Antarctica in the South.

Antarctic realm One of the Earths eight biogeographic realms

The Antarctic realm is one of eight terrestrial biogeographic realms. The ecosystem includes Antarctica and several island groups in the southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The continent of Antarctica is so cold that it has supported only 2 vascular plants for millions of years, and its flora presently consists of around 250 lichens, 100 mosses, 25-30 liverworts, and around 700 terrestrial and aquatic algal species, which live on the areas of exposed rock and soil around the shore of the continent. Antarctica's two flowering plant species, the Antarctic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwort, are found on the northern and western parts of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctica is also home to a diversity of animal life, including penguins, seals, and whales.

Emilio Marcos Palma is an Argentine man who was the first documented person born on the continent of Antarctica.

Antarctic Convergence Where cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet the relatively warmer waters of the subantarctic

The Antarctic Convergence or Antarctic Polar Front is a curve continuously encircling Antarctica, varying in latitude seasonally, where cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet the relatively warmer waters of the subantarctic. Antarctic waters predominantly sink beneath the warmer subantarctic waters, while associated zones of mixing and upwelling create a zone very high in marine productivity, especially for Antarctic krill.

History of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands aspect of history

The history of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is relatively recent. When European explorers discovered the islands, they were uninhabited, and their hostile climate, mountainous terrain, and remoteness made subsequent settlement difficult. Due to these conditions, human activity in the islands has largely consisted of sealing, whaling, and scientific surveys and research, interrupted by World War II and the Falklands War.

Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen First person born on South Georgia

Solveig Gunbjørg Jacobsen was the first person to be born and raised south of the Antarctic Convergence, in Grytviken, South Georgia.

Chilean Antarctic Territory Place in Magallanes y Antártica Chilena, Chile

The Chilean Antarctic Territory or Chilean Antarctica is the territory in Antarctica claimed by Chile. The Chilean Antarctic Territory ranges from 53° West to 90° West and from the South Pole to the 60° South parallel, partially overlapping the Argentine and British Antarctic claims. It is administered by the Cabo de Hornos municipality in the South American mainland.

Subantarctic A region in the southern hemisphere that is just north of the Antarctic region.

The Subantarctic is a region in the Southern Hemisphere, located immediately north of the Antarctic region. This translates roughly to a latitude of between 46° and 60° south of the Equator. The subantarctic region includes many islands in the southern parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, especially those situated north of the Antarctic Convergence. Subantarctic glaciers are, by definition, located on islands within the subantarctic region. All glaciers located on the continent of Antarctica are by definition considered to be Antarctic glaciers.

Falkland Islands Dependencies constitutional arrangement regarding the administration of various British dependencies

The Falkland Islands Dependencies was the constitutional arrangement from 1843 until 1985 for administering the various British territories in Sub-Antarctica and Antarctica which were governed from the Falkland Islands and its capital Port Stanley.

Religion in Antarctica Religion in Antarctica

Christian buildings are the only religious buildings on the continent of Antarctica. Although they are used mostly for Christian worship, the Chapel of the Snows has also been used for Buddhist and Bahá'í ceremonies. Some of the early religious buildings are now protected as important historical monuments.

Territorial claims in Antarctica Wikimedia list article

There are seven sovereign states who have territorial claims in Antarctica: Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom. These countries have tended to place their Antarctic scientific observation and study facilities within their respective claimed territories; however, a number of such facilities are located outside of the area claimed by their respective countries of operation, and countries without claims such as Russia and the United States have constructed research facilities within the areas claimed by other countries.

Antarctica Continent

Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent. It contains the geographic South Pole and 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 14,200,000 square kilometres, it is the fifth-largest continent and nearly twice the size of Australia. At 0.00008 people per square kilometre, it is by far the least densely populated continent. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Southern Ocean The ocean around Antarctica

The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean or the Austral Ocean, comprises the southernmost waters of the World Ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica. As such, it is regarded as the second-smallest of the five principal oceanic divisions: smaller than the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans but larger than the Arctic Ocean. This oceanic zone is where cold, northward flowing waters from the Antarctic mix with warmer subantarctic waters.


  1. American Heritage Dictionary Archived 2015-12-08 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Crystal, David (2006). The Fight for English . Oxford University Press. p.  172. ISBN   978-0-19-920764-0.
  3. Harper, Douglas. "Antarctic". Online Etymology Dictionary. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  4. "Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research website". SCAR. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  5. Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Antarctic Treaty Archived 2012-01-17 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Antarctic Wildlife". Natural Environment Research Council - British Antarctic Survey. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  8. Vanessa Woods (14 October 2011). "Antarctic wildlife". Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  9. "Plants of Antarctica". Natural Environment Research Council - British Antarctic Survey. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  10. IAATO tourist statistics 2007/08
  11. Antarctic Nations Considering New Controls On Ships Amid Tourism Explosion. Archived 2012-01-18 at the Wayback Machine Ray Lilley, The Associated Press, 8 December 2009.
  12. SGSSI Marine Protection Area (Management Plan).
  13. Greenland in figures 2009. Statistics Greenland, 2009.
  14. CCAMLR to create world's largest Marine Protected Area. CCAMLR Website
  15. Slezak, Michael (26 October 2016). "World's largest marine park created in Ross Sea in Antarctica in landmark deal". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 October 2016. Retrieved 28 October 2016.

Further reading

Coordinates: 90°00′S00°00′W / 90.000°S -0.000°E / -90.000; -0.000