No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve seen on previous travels, the frozen continent of Antarctica is different from any other destination on the planet. Here, in the midst of the great Southern Ocean, you will find nature at its most magnificent.
What is Antarctica?
Roughly twice the size of Australia, the southernmost continent is the fifth largest, with 5.5 million square miles of land mass. Most of this—98%, to be precise—is covered in ice. As a result, there are neither permanent residents nor native inhabitants in Antarctica. However, around 4,000 people stay on scientific bases in the short summer period, and 1,000 stay during the winter months. Additionally, around 30,000 tourists visit from December to March, the austral summer.
Antarctica is home to millions of penguins, and is the feeding ground for thousands of whales. It is a continent dedicated to science and peace, and is protected by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 which claims, among other things:
- Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only.
- Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation toward that end...shall continue.
- Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available.
Antarctica is, in all aspects, isolated from the outside world. Travelers will quickly understand what this means when they experience “the windiest, coldest, driest, and highest continent."
“The person who is able to express the feeling of being in Antarctica in words has probably not been there.” ~ Anonymous