Last updated on August 26th, 2019
Antarctica is Earth’s southermost continent and contains the South Pole. The name Antarctica is the romanized version of the Greek compound word ἀνταρκτική (antarktiké). Aristotle wrote in his book Meteorology about Antarctic region already in c. 350 B.C. With these facts about Antarctica, let us learn about discovery, geology, weather, history, life existence, ice sheets and more.
41 Interesting facts about Antarctica
1. Of the total 14 million square kilometers in Antarctica, almost 98% is covered with ice sheets.
2. Almost 90% of the world’s ice in the form of ice sheets is available in Antarctica. The average thickness of the sheet is 2,160 meters, which is 4,776 meters thick at the best.
3. It is the emptiest, driest, coldest, highest and windiest place on the face of the planet.
4. There are no land mammals in Antarctica.
5. Eskimos and polar bear are not from Antarctica but from the Arctic.
6. You could enjoy one long night and one long day if you were in Antarctica in the area below 60 degrees south. There the Sun sets in March and rises in October.
7. Antarctica is bigger in size (5.4 million square miles) as compared to the United States of America (3.6 million square miles).
8. Antarctica Peninsula which is also known as “The Banana Belt” – is a place in the continent, which is visited by tourist due to its mild climate as compared with the rest of the continent.
9. The first human landing happened in Antarctica in 1895 when Henryk Bull along with a party from a whaling ship reached the continent.
10. The first woman ever to set foot on the continent in 1935 is Cathgerine Mikkelson, the wife of a Norwegian whaling captain.
11. It would be an interesting fact to note here that only invertebrate animals can survive in Antarctica for the whole year. The largest of these animals is a wingless midge called Beligica antarctica. However, due to its small size, it can only be seen under a microscope.
12. In case of a meltdown of Antarctic ice sheets, 60 to 65 meters of rise in the sea levels will be seen across the world.
13. The lowest ever temperature recorded in Antarctica was at the Russian Vostok station. It was – 89.6°C (-129°F)
14. 29 million cubic kilometers of ice is deposited in the ice caps in the continent country.
15. The ice fish in Antarctica has no red pigment – haemoglobin.
16. Scientist drill cylinders of ice from the region to study their properties. This ice is formed hundreds of thousands of years in the past. So to speak, if you had a scientist friend doing research in Antarctica, he could give you an ice drink from water frozen during the times of the Roman Empire.
17. Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent.
18. The Transantarctic Mountains that are 3500 kilometers long divide the continent into east and west sections. This range is among the longest mountain ranges in the world.
19. Vinson Massif at 16,362 feet is the highest point in Antarctica.
20. Fifty-two nations have now signed the Antarctic Treaty which was first signed on Dec. 1, 1959. This treaty was established to dedicate this continent to peaceful research.
21. As per a report by the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs in 2009, nearly 80 research centers operate in the region.
22. During the summer season, there are almost 4000 researchers in Antarctica while this number gets reduced to only 1000 in the winters.
23. Antarctica is inhabited. It does not have any native population of its own. However, researchers from across the globe live in the continent for conducting studies and researches.
24. In 1979, Emile Marco Palma from Argentina is the only child born on the continent. His pregnant mother was sent specifically by Argentina to claim a portion of the continent.
25. Did you know the British explorer and meteorologist Felicity Aston covered a total distance of 1,744 kilometers on her skies in 59 days and is the first person ever to ski across Antarctica powered by human muscle?
26. Another cool fact is that during summer months, more of sunlight reaches the surface at the South Pole than at the equator during a similar period of time.
27. The only warm blooded animal to remain on the Antarctic continent through the winter is the male Emperor penguin.
28. You cannot find trees or shrubs in Antarctica.
29. According to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed 2.5 degree Celsius since 1950, which is five times the rate of warming measured for the rest of the world.
30. The largest iceberg that broke away from the Ross Ice Shelf was 170 miles long and 25 miles wide.
31. Antarctica is the premier hunting ground for meteorites in the world. White ice helps locating meteorites, which are seldom affected by natural processes. And almost 90% of all the meteorites come from Antarctica.
32. Antarctica is the largest desert in the world.
33. For the last 2 million years, some parts of the continent have been devoid of snow and rain.
34. You can spot a water fall with red blood like water in Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valley.
35. Wells Fargo Bank provided the only ATM in Antarctica in McMurod Station.
36. Would you believe, Antarctica has no official time zone?
37. 15.5 degree Celsius is the highest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica.
38. Interestingly, Earth’s core keeps from freezing some 300 lakes beneath Antarctica.
39. Ants are not found in Antarctica. However, they are found everywhere in the world except a few islands.
40. Winds can blow as fast as 320 miles per hour in some parts of Antarctica.
41. A remarkable discovery of fossilized spermatozoa preserved within the secreted wall layers of a 50-Myr-old clitellate cocoon from Antarctica was made. It is the world’s oldest sperm.
Antarctica – country at a glance
|Land Area||5,400,000 sq mi|
|Population||0 Permanent residents|
Up to 4000 temporary residents
|Borders||Nearest Countries are South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina.|