King George Island (South Shetland Islands)
Map of King George Island, Antarctica
|Archipelago||South Shetland Islands|
|Area||1,150 km2 (440 sq mi)|
|Length||95 km (59 mi)|
|Width||25 km (15.5 mi)|
|Administered under the Antarctic Treaty System|
|Population||around 500|
King George Island (Argentina: Isla 25 de Mayo, Chile: Isla Rey Jorge, Russian: Ватерло́о Vaterloo) is the largest of the South Shetland Islands, lying 120 km (75 miles) off the coast of Antarctica in the Southern Ocean. The island was named after King George III.
King George island has three major bays, Maxwell Bay, Admiralty Bay, and King George Bay. Admiralty Bay contains three fjords, and is protected as a Antarctic Specially Managed Area under the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.
The island was first claimed for Britain on 16 October 1819, formally annexed[clarification needed] by Britain as part of the Falkland Islands Dependencies in 1908, and now as part of the separate British Antarctic Territory. The Island was claimed by Chile in 1940, as part of the Chilean Antarctic Territory. It was also claimed by Argentina in 1943, now as part of Argentine Antarctica, called by the Argentines Isla Veinticinco de Mayo (May 25) in honour of their National day. The US and Russia do not recognize these claims and have formally reserved their right to claim Antarctic territories.
The island was discovered and named by the British explorer William Smith in 1819. It is approximately 95 km (59 mi) long and 25 km (16 mi) wide with a land area of 1,150 square kilometres (444 sq mi). Over 90% of the island's surface is permanently glaciated. In 1821, 11 men of the sealing vessel Lord Melville survived the winter on the island, the first men to do so in Antarctica
Life on the island
The coastal areas of the island are home to a comparatively diverse selection of vegetation and animal life, including elephant, Weddell, and leopard seals, and Adelie, chinstrap and gentoo penguins. Several other seabirds, including skuas and southern giant petrel, nest on this island during the summer months.
Human habitation of King George Island is limited to research stations belonging to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, South Korea, Peru, Poland, Russia, Uruguay, and the United States. Most of these stations are permanently staffed, carrying out research into areas as diverse as biology, ecology, geology, and palaeontology. Base Presidente Eduardo Frei Montalva, the Chilean Station on the Fildes Peninsula, is operated as a permanent village with an airstrip (with large hangar and control tower along with other buildings), cafeterias for personnel of its several agencies there, a bank, a post office and comfortable ranch-style family homes with children. Chile (like Argentina and Great Britain) regards all of the Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands as part of that country's territory; however, the terms of the Antarctic Treaty allow Chile to colonize the Fildes Peninsula without overtly pursuing its territorial claims. The Chinese Great Wall base features an indoor multipurpose room which serves as a full-size basketball court.
In 2004, a Russian Orthodox church, Trinity Church, was opened on the island near Russia's Bellingshausen Station. The church, one of the southernmost in the world and one of the few permanent structures in Antarctica, is permanently manned by a priest.
In October 2013, American heavy metal band Metallica announced that it would perform a concert sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company at Carlini Station heliport. The concert took place on December 8, 2013.
NOAA runs Lenie Base, a seasonal research station for penguin studies on Admiralty Bay. This small station, dubbed Copacabana, operates in the Antarctic summer only, but is used as a survival hut in the winter.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to King George Island.|
- The SCAR King George Island GIS Project provides an interactive map of the island.
- Biodiversity at Ardley Island Small place near King George Island, special protected area.
- Report From Antarctica: Countries Maneuver for Potential Future Land Grab