The word Antarctica is taken from the Greek word 'Antarktik' which means opposite to the North. Antarctica is the only continent in the world which doesn't have permanent residents but scientists and researchers do visit and dwell this place for research work. In addition to them whale hunters and other polar animal hunters also visit this place. It is not clear who actually discovered this place as some believe it was discovered in 1770 while a large group of historians believe that it was discovered by Mikhail Lazarev and Fabian Gotlieb in 1820. John George was the person who actually gave this continent a name which is 'Antarctica'. Antarctica has got some of the most extreme weather condition in the world, here I will discuss nine more interesting facts about this icy continent.
Antarctica is located in the middle half of the Southern hemisphere and South Pole is also a part of this continent. It has total area of 14.4 million km2. It is the fifth largest continent in the world and 98% of its area is covered with snow. Antarctica is the the coldest and the driest continent of the world and it is also home to the strongest winds in the world. It can be called as the highest continent of the world as it is 2300 metres above sea level. Since the annual rainfall is extremely low in the area therefore technically it can be regarded as the largest desert in the world.
70-90% of the Earth's fresh water resources are frozen in this area. But this resource can not be utilised for agriculture due to the extreme condition of Antarctica. In winter season this frost extends and covers the neighbouring seas. It is believed that if all the ice of Antarctica melts, the wordwide oceans would rise about 200 feet.
The Antarctic Treaty
In 1953, twelve countries signed 'The Antarctic Treaty' and today 46 countries have become part of this treaty. Antarctica is being managed under the guidelines provided by this treaty, this is called 'The Antarctic Treaty System', according to which no military activities and extraction of minerals can be practised in the region.
Land Disputes In Antarctica
Antarctica is the only continent in the world that doesn't have any country,capital or any government but there are some countries who claim some territories to be theirs, these countries include; Argentina,Britain,Chile,Australia,France,New Zealand and Norway. There are also a number of disputes due to these claims. In 1959 territorial claim in Antarctica was completely put to an end and the region was declared as politically neutral.
Population In Antarctica
A number of countries have set up their research stations in Antarctica. Some of these research station work the whole year while most of them are shut down in winter. In summers the population of scientists rises to about 5000, which then lowers to about a 1000 in winter.
Transport In Antarctica
Due to the extreme frost in Antarctica, transport is one of the major issues faced by visitors. Scientists and other visitors come here either by special planes or through medium sized ships. Normal ships even of this size can be easily destroyed by the ice-bergs so the ships that go in the region are specially designed having ice-berg resistant bodies, these ships are called 'Ice breakers'.
Conventional means of transport within the continent is dog driven carts, but these are now replaced by jet skis.
Minerals In Antarctica
Geographically, Antarctica is rich in many important mineral resources. Here minerals like; gold,iron,coal etc are in abundance. In 1973 oil and gas reserves were discovered in the Ross Sea but according to the Antarctic Treaty, these reserves can not be extracted until 2048.
Animals In Antarctica
Antarctica is the only continent in the world where insects do not exist, while other large animal like whales and seals can be seen very often. There are a number of bird species in this region of which penguin is the most well known.
Climate In Antarctica
Antarctica a part from the usual frost, has some other unique climatic features. There are some region in Antarctica where sun never rises in the winter season and in summer the sun never sets. In winters the temperature here can drop up to 60oc.
Volcanoes In Antarctica
Another amazing fact about this continent is that, a number of volcanoes also exist in this frozen region. In January 2008 British scientists revealed that these volcanoes, buried under thick layers of snow, erupted some 2200 years ago. This is considered to be biggest volcanic eruption since the last 10,000 years. The frozen ashes of this eruption can be found in Hudson Mountains, near the Pine Island Glacier.