The Earth is home to two extremely cold places. For all general purposes we can call them the North Pole and the South Pole. Of course we all know from reading my post Saint Nicholas and the History of Santa Claus that the North Pole is home to the children’s most beloved man, Santa Claus. But what about the South Pole, there lies a very cold place called Antarctica.
Antarctica is a pretty desolate place and we don’t normally give it much thought, even though we know it’s there, you just don’t ever hear too much being said about it. But there are many questions that could arise such as “who lives there“, “What kind of research are they doing there” and most importantly, “Who Runs that Place Anyway?” Of course I was pondering thoughts again as usual and decided to do a bit of research on Antarctica and as always, I wanted to share with my readers what I’ve discovered.
Some Information About Antarctica
First of all, Antarctica covers an area of about five and a half square miles and is ranked as the fifth largest continent in the world. Although this place is quite large, the climate makes it an unbearable place to inhabit, therefore the overall population of Antarctica is only a few thousand.
As far as the conditions of Antarctica are concerned, the temperature on average is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit, this is below zero of course….Burrrrrr. Not only does it average such extreme temperatures, but the surface area of Antarctica is 98% ice. These extreme conditions only allow a select few plants and animals to survive and they’ve evolved so that their bodies are conditioned for these super low temperatures and icy landscapes.
Records indicate that no humans had visited Antarctica until an American by the name of John Davis made his way there back in 1821. From there over a dozen different countries would share the continent of Antarctica over the span of 100 years.
Which Countries Shared Antarctica
Many countries found usefulness in the continent of Antarctica, mainly for the different resources that it had to offer. Such as Sweden and Norway, they had interest due to the business of whaling and for fur sealing. Then the United States and Britain both had a hand in it as well. Their interests were more geared toward exploration and scientific research.
By the time 1911 had rolled by Roald Amundsen of Norway made the discovery of the South Pole, which eventually led to the mapping of the continent in the late 1920s. Of course once this took place, the international land rush was set into motion.
Who Runs Antarctica
Well, fact of the matter is, no one really “runs” Antarctica. But there is a national effort to maintain the use of it on a collective level. In 1959, 12 different nations which included the U.S. and Soviet Union had signed what was called the Antarctic Treaty. This treaty basically guaranteed that there would be free reign by all involved countries for the purpose of scientific operations. The treaty would also prohibit any military activities from being allowed there. And of course since Antarctica was now shared between these countries, the treaty would make sure that no territorial claims could be established.
The governing of Antarctica is a collective effort done by way of consultative meetings between the nations. There are 27 actively participating nations that currently maintain extensive Antarctic facilities. Most of these consultative meetings involve environmental protections, such as when oil and mineral explorations were banned by a group in 1991. But this protection was only to remain in effect for a fifteen year period.
Another protection that was filed in the interest of the environment was a restriction put on any fishing as well as banning sealing permanently. When U.S. nationals are in Antarctica, they are still governed by the American laws, unless they are in foreign-operated research stations.
Who Lives in Antarctica Now?
Well, there really aren’t many permanent residents of Antarctica unless they are involved in some sort of research group. Since the Antarctic Treaty was put into effect, the only inhabitants have been scientific researchers and support staff members.
The continent of Antarctica is well suited for several different types of research including meteorology, oceanography, astronomy and geophysics to name a few. Within these fields you will find approximately 80 different research stations spread out across Antarctica. But during the winter months only 40 of these are actually active.
The largest station presently is the McMurdo, ran by the United States and it consists of 80 buildings and somewhere around 1,000 residents during the summer. Keep in mind these facilities are very isolated during the winter mainly because the weather is so severe it’s nearly impossible to travel by air. Since no one is willing to withstand this climate for very long, the normal stay at one of the research stations is normally no more than 2 years in one stretch.
So that’s it folks, you now know a little bit about Antarctica and who runs the place. It’s not real exciting, but without the research teams that are in place there, we would miss out on some very useful information that has helped our technology to progress. Have you or anyone you know spent any time in Antarctica? What do you think it would be like to live in a climate that was 70 degrees below zero on average?