The Antarctic (// or //) is a polar region, specifically the region around the Earth's South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole. The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica and the ice shelves, waters, and island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence. The region covers some 20% of the Southern Hemisphere, of which 5.5% (14 million km2) is the surface area of the continent itself.
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. 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. 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.
- South Georgia pipits
- Antarctic petrels
- Fish, such as Antarctic icefish, Antarctic toothfish
- Squid, including the colossal squid
- Antarctic krill
Most of the Antarctic continent is permanently covered by ice and snow; less than 1% of the land is exposed. There are only two species of flowering plant, Antarctic hair grass and Antarctic pearlwort, but a range of mosses, liverworts, lichens and macrofungi.
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 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 would be presented at the Antarctic Treaty states' meeting in Uruguay in May 2010.
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.
- The word was originally pronounced without /k/, but the spelling pronunciation has become the more common one. The "c" was originally added for etymological reasons and was then misunderstood as not being silent.
- Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR)
- Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources
- Antarctic Treaty
- "Antarctic Wildlife". Natural Environment Research Council - British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- Vanessa Woods (2011-10-14). "Antarctic wildlife". Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Plants of Antarctica". Natural Environment Research Council - British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- IAATO tourist statistics 2007/08
- Antarctic Nations Considering New Controls On Ships Amid Tourism Explosion. Ray Lilley, The Associated Press, December 8, 2009.
- SGSSI Marine Protection Area (Management Plan).
- Good Planet: Denmark. Largest protected area in the world.
- Krupnik, Igor, Michael A. Lang, and Scott E. Miller, eds. Smithsonian at the Poles: Contributions to International Polar Year Science. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2009.
- British Services Antarctic Expedition 2012
- Committee for Environmental Protection of Antarctica
- Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty
- CCAMLR Commission
- Antarctic Heritage Trusts
- International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators
- Map of the Antarctic Convergence
- The South Atlantic and Subantarctic Islands