ANTARCTICA

The freezing, inhospitable continent of Antarctica was the last place on Earth to be explored. It is a vast, mountainous land mass at the South Pole, buried under an ice sheet up to 3 miles (4.8 km) thick, and surrounded by frozen seas. Antarctica has no countries and no permanent population. With winter temperatures falling to –122°F (–80°C), its sole inhabitants are visiting research scientists.

WHO OWNS ANTARCTICA?

Antarctica does not belong to any nation, but is governed under an international treaty that bars countries from owning or exploiting its land. The 1959 Antarctic Treaty, signed by 45 nations, suspended the claims of seven countries for territory in the region. Today, Antarctica is designated as “a continent for science,” and only used for peaceful purposes.

WHAT DO SCIENTISTS STUDY IN ANTARCTICA?

Scientists from all over the world visit Antarctica to study the climate, weather, geology, and wildlife of this unique region. Their research has helped to highlight global problems, such as climate change. During the summer, about 3,700 scientists work in the 46 or more scientific research stations scattered across the continent. Only about 1,200 scientists remain in winter because of the intense cold.

FACTFILE: ANTARCTICA

Total land area: 5.4 million sq miles (14 million sq km)

Total population: no indigenous inhabitants, but there are seasonally staffed research stations

Number of countries: 0

Highest point: Vinson Massif 16,066 ft (4,897 m)

Major deserts: the continent is technically a desert

Largest island: Alexander Island

Lowest temperature on Earth: –128.6°F (–89.2°C) recorded at Vostok Station

ARCTIC

The Arctic region lies at the North Pole. It is a small, frozen ocean surrounded by the northern edges of Europe, Asia, and North America, whose flat, bleak landscape is known as the tundra. The region is a cold and hostile environment and few people live there. The Arctic Ocean, however, teems with wildlife.

WHICH ANIMALS CAN SURVIVE IN THE ARCTIC?

The Arctic Ocean is home to seals, walruses, and many species of whales, which thrive in the icy waters, protected by thick layers of blubber. In the warmer summer months, animals such as reindeer, musk oxen, hares, and Arctic foxes hunt for food on land, but they migrate south during the harsh winter.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Pin the Star on the Christmas Tree Game
Looking for a great Christmas game to play with your kids? Print our free Pin the Star on the Christmas Tree game for loads of family fun!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top Family Movies in Theaters for the Holidays
Taking the kids to the movies is a special family treat for the holidays! Don't miss 2014's best family films in theaters from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!