Who owns Antarctica? How big is it anyway? Any weird Antarctica facts? Well, one, it’s complicated, two, very and, three – of course. Read on for detailed answers to these and other questions you might have about the frozen continent.
Who owns Antarctica?
Though it is not technically owned by anyone, Antarctica is governed by the Antarctica Treaty system. The treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, UK, USA and USSR. All these countries had scientists actively involved in projects in Antarctica at the time. Over the years, many more scientific expeditions have had Antarctica as their ultimate goal.
Here are some other cool facts about the coolest continent on Earth.
How big is Antarctica?
Like we said, very – Antarctica has a total area of 5,405,430 square miles. To put this into perspective, that’s roughly double the size of Australia, but nowhere near as big as Asia, which clocks in at a staggering 17,212,000 square miles.
However, Antarctica is home to some of the most unique environments, flora and fauna on the planet.
The Dry Valleys
You may be surprised to hear that, along with being the coldest place on Earth, Antarctica is also home to one of the driest climates ever. The low humidity in the McMurdo Dry Valleys means that snow and ice are unable to form, leaving the area perpetually covered in an alien-looking mix of dust and dirt.
The most interesting thing about Deep Lake is that it cannot freeze because of hight salt content – about 10 times more than the ocean.
But don’t let that fool you into thinking you can have a swim there; the water temperature reaches -20 degrees Celsius at the lake’s deepest point. In fact, the waters of Deep Lake are so hostile that almost nothing can survive there – except for a rare strain of extremophile bacteria.
The Antarctic flag
Antarctica has its own flag. Never heard of it before? That could be because it was only created in 2002. It features a white outline of the continent on a light blue background.
What is the capital of Antarctica?
Capital? What is that? Antarctica doesn’t have a capital. Since the continent is considered a geographic entity and not an actual country, it doesn’t need a capital.
Can you make phone calls over there?
Want to give someone a call in Antarctica? Just use Antarctica’s international dialling code: +672. If anyone happens to visit Antarctica and says they cannot take calls, you can prove them otherwise.
Ed Sheeran‘s daughter’s name
Perhaps an odd addition to the list, but, as an Ed Sheeran fan, it would be impossible for me to omit.
Sheeran and his wife, Cherry Seaborn welcomed their first child last week – a baby girl whose middle name just so happens to be Antarctica. The singer is a vocal advocate for action to reverse climate change, having performed on the One Earth charity single to raise awareness of the issue.
We hope this satisfies your curiosity about who owns Antarctica and more about the remote, frozen continent.