A continent mostly south of the Antarctic Circle and outlying Sub antarctic islands

Geographic Coordinates

90 00S 0 00E

Map References

Antarctic Region


13,768,628 square kilometres (857,788 square kilometres ice-free, 12,910,840 square kilometres ice-covered)


5th largest continent in the world (following Asia, Africa, North America and South America but larger than Australia and the subcontinent of Europe). Is the second largest sovereign country in the world in terms of land area after Russia.

Area comparative

Slightly less than 1.5 times the size of the US

Land boundaries

0 km


20,949 kilometres

Maritime Claims

Claims 20,000 square kilometres of the EEZ of the Falkland Islands and Argentina


Varies from Frigid Ice-cap climate to Warm Subtropical climate


About 94% of the land surface is covered with a permanent ice sheet with average elevations between 1,000 and 3,000 metres; mountain ranges to almost 5,000 metres; about 25% of the outer coastline of the country is ice-free throughout the year.

Elevation Extremes

Lowest Point:  Fofoma siseki pipeni uu peeneteli (Bentley Subglacial Trench) -2,555m

Highest Point: Piinesone Maasi (Vinson Massif) 4,897m

Natural Resources

Iron Ore, Chromium, Copper, Gold, Nickel, Platinum and other minerals, Hydrocarbons, Fish and seafood

Land Use

Arable Land: 0.13%

Other: 99.87% (94% of the country is covered by a permanent glacier)

Irrigated Land

0 square kilometres

Natural Hazards

On certain areas of the coast there are icebergs which can pose hazards to shipping. In the interior, there are blizzards which can cause dangerous transportation conditions overland. Volcanism on certain sub-antarctic islands.

Environment Current Issues

in 1998, NASA satellite data showed that the antarctic ozone hole was the largest on record, covering 27 million square kilometers; researchers in 1997 found that increased ultraviolet light passing through the hole damages the DNA of icefish, an antarctic fish lacking hemoglobin; ozone depletion earlier was shown to harm antarctic marine plants; in 2002, significant areas of glaciers disintegrated in response to regional warming

Geography Note

the coldest, windiest, highest (on average), and driest continent; during summer, more solar radiation reaches the surface at the South Pole than is received at the Equator in an equivalent period; mostly uninhabitable


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