, with the South Pole
at its center, is the world's third largest continent. It is completely surrounded by the
Southern Ocean. Unlike the North Pole most of Antarctica's ice sits on solid ground and piles up to heights of almost 2 km.
90% of the world's ice and, if all of it would melt, would cause a sea level rise of 60 meters. Luckily that is not going to happen
soon as the temperatures regularly dip to minus 80 C.
Lake Vostok is a fresh water lake beneath 4000 m of ice. In 2015
russian scientists drilled al the way down and collected a sample of the pristine water.
Antarctica's existence was already
guessed by Ptolemy, but first explorers only arrived in the 19th century.
Early in the 20th century Shackleton led several expeditions
to Antarctica. His perilous voyage with the James Caird made him the ultimate hero.
The race to the South Pole was won
by Amundsen who planted the Norwegian flag here in Dec 1911. His competitor Scott arrived 5 weeks later but perished on his way
Antarctica has no permanent inhabitants but at least 10 people can officially claim to be born here.
8 countries claim parts of this ice continent, the 1959 Antarctic Treaty was set up to regulate the international relations.
Only 40.000 tourists visit Antarctica annually, some aboard cruise ships, others do a fly-over from Australia, Chile or Argentina.