Chilean Antarctic Territory

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Chilean Antarctic Territory
Territorio Chileno Antártico
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Country  Chile
Region  Magallanes y Antártica Chilena
Province Antártica Chilena
Commune Antártica
Claimed November 6, 1940
 • Intendant Jorge Flies Añón
 • Mayor Hugo Henriquez Matus
 • INACH Director José Retamales
 • Total 1,250,000 km2 (480,000 sq mi)
Population (2012 Census)[3]
 • Total 115
 • Density 9.2×10−5/km2 (0.00024/sq mi)
 • Urban 0
 • Rural 115
 • Men 100
 • Women 15
Time zone UTC-3
Area code(s) 56 + 61
Website Official website (Spanish)
1 As mayor of the commune of Cabo de Hornos

The Chilean Antarctic Territory or Chilean Antarctica (Spanish: Territorio Chileno Antártico, Antártica Chilena) is the territory in Antarctica claimed by Chile. The Chilean Antarctic Territory ranges from 53°W to 90°W and from the South Pole to 60°S, partially overlapping the Argentine and British Antarctic claims. It is administered by the Cabo de Hornos municipality in the South American mainland.

The territory claimed by Chile covers the South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula, called "O'Higgins Land" ("Tierra de O'Higgins" in Spanish) in Chile, and adjacent islands, the Alexander Island, Charcot Island, and part of the Ellsworth Land, among others. It has an area of 257.6 km² 1250. Its boundaries are defined by Decree 1747, issued on November 6, 1940 and published on June 21, 1955, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs established:[4]

The Chilean Antarctica or Chilean Antarctic Territory is: all lands, islands, islets, reefs, glaciers (pack-ice), and others, known and unknown, and respective territorial waters, existing within the limits of the cap constituted by the meridians 53º longitude west of Greenwich and 90º longitude west of Greenwich.

Within Chilean territorial organization Antártica is the name of the commune that administers the territory. The comune of Antártica is managed by the municipality of Cabo de Hornos with seat in Puerto Williams and belongs to Antártica Chilena Province, which is part of Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena Region. The commune of Antártica was created on July 11, 1961, and was dependent on the Magallanes Province until 1975, when the Antártica Chilena Province was created, making it dependent administratively on Puerto Williams, the province capital.


Sovereignty and Antarctic Treaty System[edit]

Conmemorative stamp of the Chilean Arntarctic declaration of 1940.
Map of tricontinental Chile, including the antarctic claim.
Map of the three areas dividing the Chilean territory:
In blue: Continental Chile.
In red: Insular Chile.
In green: Antarctic Chile.

In January 14 of 1939, Norway declared its territorial claims on Antarctic territory between meridians 0° and 20° (Queen Maud Land), which alarmed the Chilean government, so the president Pedro Aguirre Cerda encouraged the definition of National Antarctic Territory and the September 7 of that year established by Decree No. 1541 a special commission to examine the country's interests in Antarctica.

The commission set the bounds according to the Theory of polar areas taking into account geographical, historical, legal and diplomatic precedents, which were formalized by Decree No. 1747, enacted on November 6 of 1940 and published on June 21 of 1955.[4] ​​As in Chile is considered their Antarctic rights arrived until the line Treaty of Tordesillas, the decree setting the limit of his claim in a meridian located further west (the 53° West), his claim to not include the South Orkney Islands in consideration of the rights of Argentina. Argentina formally protested by decree in a note November 12 of 1940, rejecting its validity and expressing a potential claim to the same area. In turn, the United Kingdom objected to the February 25 of 1941.

In the late 1940s, Argentina and Chile recognized each other "... that Chile and Argentina have unquestionable rights of sovereignty in the polar area called American Antarctica ("Antártida Americana" in Spanish)".

In January of 1942, Argentina declared its Antarctic rights between the meridians 25° and 68° 24' W, that of Punta Dúngeness. In September 2 of 1946, Decree No. 8944 set new boundaries for the Argentine Antarctic Sector between the meridians 25° and 74° west longitude. Finally, February 28 of 1957, Decree Law No. 2129 established the definitive limits of their claim between the meridians 25° and 74° West and parallel 60° South latitude. This decree established a territory which is superimposed on part of the territory claimed by Chile.

Chile began to perform acts of sovereignty in the Antarctic continent with installation, Sovereignty Base current Arturo Prat in 1947. The following year, and as a way of settling the Chilean claims, the President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla opened the Base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme, the first official visit of Head of state to Antarctica.

The 4 March of 1948, Chile and Argentina they signed an agreement on mutual protection and legal defense of its Antarctic territorial rights, recognizing each other:

(...) until agreed, by mutual agreement, the line common neighborhood in Antarctic territories of Chile and Argentina, declared:
1) That both governments acting in agreement on legal protection and defense of their rights in American Antarctica, between the meridians 25° and 90° west longitude of Greenwich, indisputable sovereign rights are recognized by Chile and Argentina.


In 1953, the representative of India in United Nations presented a project for the internationalization of Antarctica, movement which adhered several countries without a history of acts of sovereignty over the Antarctic territory. That if they had started efforts to avoid internationalization, and Chilean ambassador in New Delhi, Miguel Serrano, persuaded the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru down the proposal.

The May 4 of 1955, the United Kingdom filed two lawsuits against Argentina and Chile, respectively, before the International Court of Justice for it to declare the invalidity of claims of sovereignty of the two countries on Antarctic and sub-Antarctic areas. The July 15 of 1955, the Chilean government rejected the jurisdiction of the Court in that case and August 1 so did the Argentine government, so the 16 March of 1956 claims were filed.

No. 11486 of the June 17 of 1955 law put the Chilean Antarctic Territory dependence Province of Magallanes, which became the July 12 of 1974 and XII Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica.

In 1958, the president of the US Dwight Eisenhower invited Chile to the Conference by the International Geophysical Year to resolve the issue Antarctic. The 1 December of 1959, Chile signed the Antarctic Treaty, which stated that:

  • Antarctica is World Heritage Site.
  • Gives the Antarctic territory for peaceful purposes, prevented the military installation or navy.
  • The signatory countries of the treaty with right establish base scientific purposes (marine biology, Seismology, volcanology, etc.).
  • Freeze all the territorial claims, ensuring each signatory nation to a statu quo for the duration of the treaty.
  • In this territory for peaceful purposes can not be made nuclear tests, or war, nor leave toxic waste.

In July 2003, Chile and Argentina began installing a common shelter called Abrazo de Maipú , halfway between O'Higgins bases, Chile, and Esperanza, Argentina.

Geography and climate[edit]

The Chilean Antarctic Territory map.

The Chilean Antarctic Territory covers an area of 1 250 257,6 km², equivalent to more than 60% of total Chilean surface, which is covered in its entirety, except for small coastal areas, with a thick layer of ice and snow, which can exceed 1200 meters deep in some areas of the interior of the continent.

The Chilean claim is mainly constituted by a sector of the Lesser Antarctica or West Antarctica, which includes the Antarctic Peninsula, known in Chile as Land of O'Higgins , it is crossed longitudinally by the mountains of the Antartandes. This mountain range is the continuation of the Andes. The Antartandes in turn, clearly differentiate three geographic areas in the Land of O'Higgins: the western slope, the central plateau and the eastern slope.

Antartandes reach the 4190 meters of altitude in the Mount Jackson and 3655 meters in the Mount Coman.

Within the land claimed by Chile, in southwest of the territory are the highest summits of the Antarctic continent, including the point of highest elevation, which are part of the Sentinel Range:

The precipitations in the territory are relatively rare and are decreasing towards the South Pole, where reigns the "polar desert".

Coastal areas more to the North, as the north of Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands, have a subpolar climate or tundra, that is, the temperature average of the warmest month exceeds 32 °F (0 °C), some lands are permafrost. The rest of the territory is under the regime of Polar climate.


The Antártica Commune has a population of 130 inhabitants on, according to the census conducted nationwide in 2002, corresponding to 44 civilians and 86 military. These people are mostly members of the Chilean Air Force and their families, who live mostly in Villa Las Estrellas. This town, located next to the Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva, on King George Island, was opened on April 9 of 1984 and has an airport, a bank, a school and child care, a hospital, a supermarket, mobile telephony and television.

In 1984 was born in Villa Las Estrellas, the first Antarctic Chilean, Juan Pablo Camacho Martino. So far, a total three people has born in the Chilean Bases. At present, the development of tourism has increased explosively through airplanes and cruise ships that depart from Punta Arenas or Ushuaia.

Bases, stations and settlements[edit]

Night view of Villa Las Estrellas, the only civil settlement.

List of Chilean Antarctic Bases:

Name Country Location Type
Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva  Chile King George Island P
Base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme  Chile Antarctic Peninsula P
Base Capitán Arturo Prat  Chile Greenwich Island P
Base Profesor Julio Escudero  Chile King George Island P
Estación Polar Científica Conjunta "Glaciar Unión"  Chile Union Glacier S
Base Yelcho  Chile Doumer Island S
Base Doctor Guillermo Mann  Chile Livingston Island S
Base Presidente Gabriel Gonzalez Videla  Chile Paradise Bay S
Refugio Julio Ripamonti  Chile Ardley Island S
Refugio Luis Risopatrón  Chile Robert Island S
Refugio Collins  Chile Collins Bay S

(P): Permanent; Are open all the year. (S): Seasonal; Are open in the Austral Summer. The largest population center is located on King George Island and consists of Frei Montalva Station, which has an airport (Teniente Rodolfo Marsh Martin Aerodrome, ICAO Code SCRM [1]), and which is connected to the communal capital, the village of Villa Las Estrellas, which has a town hall, hotel, day-care center, school, scientific equipment, hospital, post office and bank. This enclave is a center of logistical support for the other eight countries with scientific bases on King George Island.

Nearby Professor Julio Escudero Base, controlled by the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH), under the Ministry of Foreign Relations, is the main Chilean scientific facility in Antarctica.

Captain Arturo Prat Base is a Chilean Antarctic research base located on Greenwich Island. Opened February 6, 1947, it is the oldest Chilean Antarctic station. Until March 1, 2006, it was a base of the Chilean Navy, on which date it was handed over to the regional government of Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena Region. Until February, 2004, it had been a permanent base. Afterwards, it had served as a summer base of ionospheric and meteorologic research. There have been plans to reopen the station for permanent occupation starting March, 2008.

The only permanent Chilean station on the Antarctic mainland (Antarctic Peninsula), O'Higgins Station has been in operation since February 18, 1948. It is located on Puerto Covadonga and it is the official communal capital.[citation needed]

Seasonal bases[edit]

Penguins near President Gabriel González Videla Base, in 1957.
Inauguration of the "Estación Polar Científica Conjunta "Glaciar Unión"" By the President Sebastián Piñera Echenique on January 4, 2014.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]