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Interesting Facts About Antarctica

Updated on January 26, 2014

Antarctica is the fifth largest and the southernmost continent in the world. It is situated almost entirely in the Antarctic Circle of the Southern Hemisphere. Antarctica is covered by ice all throughout the year making it unsuitable for permanent inhabitation and livelihood. In this section we look at some of the interesting facts about Antarctica.

An Emperor Penguin Child.
An Emperor Penguin Child.
  • Antarctica was first discovered in 1820.
  • The South Pole is found in Antarctica.
  • Roald Amundsen, a Norwegian, was the first person to reach the South Pole. He reached it in 1911.
  • Emilio Marcos Palma of Argentina was the first person born in Antarctica.
  • Antarctica literally means ‘opposite to the north’. It came about from a Greek word.
  • Antarctica is almost double the size of Australia.
  • It is the southernmost continent on Earth.
  • Antarctica has the highest average elevation among all continents.

The Geographic South Pole In Antarctica.
The Geographic South Pole In Antarctica.
  • Antarctica is the coldest place in the world.
  • It is also the driest place on earth and therefore classified as cold desert.
  • It is called White Continent as it is completely frozen.
  • Antarctic is colder than the Arctic.
  • Antarctica has 8 times more ice than the Arctic.
  • Most of Antarctica is covered in ice (except for about 2%).

The Subglacial Landmass Of Antarctica.
The Subglacial Landmass Of Antarctica.
  • About 70% of the total earth’s fresh water reserve is in the Antarctica ice cap.
  • Antarctica accounts for 90% of the entire world’s ice.
  • The average thickness of ice sheet is around 2km.
  • The highest thickness of ice sheet is generally 4.7km.
  • The mean annual temperature at the South Pole is -560F.
  • The lowest temperature ever recorded is at Vostok Station (-89.20C i.e. -128.60F).

Vostok Station, The Russian Research Center In Antarctica.
Vostok Station, The Russian Research Center In Antarctica.
  • Antarctica doesn’t have a time zone.
  • The seasons are opposite to that of the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Summer is from October to February. Winter is from March to September.
  • In winter, Antarctica almost doubles in size due to freezing of water.
  • In summer, Antarctica gets light all day while in winter it is total darkness.
  • Mt. Vinson Massif (4,892m) is the highest peak of Antarctica.
  • Mt. Erebus is the only active volcano in Antarctica.

Mt. Erebus, The Southernmost Active Volcano In The World.
Mt. Erebus, The Southernmost Active Volcano In The World.

Antarctica's Climate Secrets - Ice On The Move

  • Antarctica has more that 70 lakes that lie below the ice sheet. Lake Vostok is the largest among them.
  • Penguins, whales, seals, krills and other similar fishes are found in large numbers.
  • There are 4 different species of penguins in Antarctica with the Emperor penguin being the largest.
  • There are no land mammals in Antarctica. Eskimos and polar bears are found only in the Arctic.

A Group Of Emperor Penguins Standing Beside An Adelie Penguin.
A Group Of Emperor Penguins Standing Beside An Adelie Penguin.

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  • 6 species of baleen whales and 6 species of toothed whales and dolphins are found in Antarctica.
  • Krill fish is the main source of food for whales and seals.
  • Cormorants, gulls, skuas, terns, sheathbills, and pintail ducks are also found in Antarctica.
  • Only invertebrate animals live in Antarctica.
  • The wildlife generally lives in the coast.
  • Lichens, mosses, fungi and algae grow in Antarctica.
  • The ‘Antarctic Treaty’ of 1959 designates Antarctica as ‘a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science’.
  • Antarctica is called as the ‘Continent of Science’.

Snapshot Of A Krill Fish.
Snapshot Of A Krill Fish.
  • There are no permanent residents. The only people living in Antarctica are scientists. They work at various research facilities found on the continent.
  • Phenomenon like aurora australis (glow in the night sky), diamond dust (cloud of tiny ice crystals) and sun dog (bright spot beside the sun) are observed in Antarctica.
  • Several minerals have been discovered in Antarctica but its commercial exploitation is banned until 2048 by the ‘Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty’.
  • If all the ice in Antarctica were to melt, the sea level would rise by around 60m.
  • Fossils have been found in Antarctica which shows that once it was a warm and habitable place.

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    • Travel Musings profile image
      Author

      Vishnu Pradeep 3 years ago from India

      Thank You Tolovaj for your words. I also agree that it's not quite a top travel destination yet. It's more of a treasure trove for the scientists and the researchers who wants to know more about our planet.

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Not exactly top destination for mass tourism. I like that and I am sure it would be fun to experience something wild as Antarctica. Thanks for this enjoyable presentation!

    • Travel Musings profile image
      Author

      Vishnu Pradeep 3 years ago from India

      Thank You freecampingaussie for your appreciation. Good to know you found the hub enjoyable..

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 3 years ago from Southern Spain

      An enjoyable hub with lovely photos about a place I would love to visit! We enjoyed visiting Alaska last year and it has left us keen for more places to explore .