Antarctica, with the South Pole at its center, is completely surrounded by the Southern Ocean. Unlike the North Pole, most of
the ice sits on solid and high ground and piles up to heights of up to 4 km.
The continent holds 90% of the world's ice
and, if all would melt, would cause a Sea level rise of 60 meters. Luckily that is not going to happen soon as temperatures mostly
remain way below zero and regularly dip to minus 85 C.
Antarctica's existence was guessed by Ptolemy, but the first man to
set foot ashore was John Davis in 1821.
The race to the South Pole was won by
Amundsen who planted the Norwegian flag in Dec 1911. His competitor Scott arrived 5 weeks later but perished on the way
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.
8 countries claim parts of Antarctica and the 1959 Antarctic Treaty was set up to regulate the relations.
The Madrid Protocol of
1998 prohibits all mining and designates Antarctica as devoted to piece and science.
About 40.000 tourists travel
to Antarctica annually aboard cruise ships that mostly visit the Antarctic Peninsula. Others board a plane from Chile, Argentina or
Australia to see the endless ice from above.