Antarctica is the last of the earth’s continents to be explored. In the mid 1800’s intrepid explorers ventured to visit the area but would not step on land until the early 1900’s due to its harsh climate. It is the coldest of the earth’s continents with temperatures reaching nearly fifty degrees along its coastline during the summer and obtaining an average of minus-one hundred and twelve degrees in the interior in the winter. There is only eight inches of precipitation yearly and is considered an artic like desert and is the windiest continent on the earth. It also has the highest average elevation of any continent.
It is the fifth largest continent and nearly twice the size of Australia. Once belonging in a more temperate climate it separated from South America and Australia during the Paleozoic period, and recently findings there uncovered fossils and petrified wood. Oil and coal have also been discovered there, but international treaties do not allow mining in Antarctica. The treaties also prohibit military activities, nuclear explosions, and nuclear waste disposal as well.
There is no government in Antarctica and only one thousand visitors reside there in the winter, and about five thousand during the summer. These visitors man the research stations of nearly thirty countries.
The continent is covered with as much as more than a mile of ice and its animal life consists of fur seals, penguins, emperor penguins, albatrosses, a variety of other seabirds, and its apex predator is the Leopard seal. The ocean life consists of whales, orcas, squid, mollusks, and krill, the prime source of food for much of the ocean’s inhabitants.
Although several countries lay claim to parts of the continents, the 1959 Treaty System agreement prohibits any to lay claim to Antarctica itself. We hope that this article will be enjoyed by our readership, and we have attached a few photographs for your enjoyment. As always, we encourage feedback on all our articles and provide contact information for that purpose
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