Antarctica is a continent lying around the South Pole.  However, it is not particularly symmetrical.  There is considerably less land in the direction of South America and the Pacific.  For this reason, we talk about a smaller West Antarctica and a larger East Antarctica.  The South Pole itself is within East Antarctica but pretty close to the border of West Antarctica.  What separates them is the Transantarctic Mountains.  They follow the coast for a while in the direction of New Zealand, too.

This continent has for many million years been more or less ice-covered.  In contrast, it is not much of the ice which is stationary.  Most of it moves over time and takes things on it with it.  This is why the ceremonial South Pole does not exactly correspond to the geographical South Pole.  However, I think it did when the pillar in the middle was erected.  The exact South Pole is marked by a sign which has to be moved every year.  At least it stands within walking distance.

Nearly all of Antarctica is covered in ice which can be up to 4 kilometres (2½ miles) thick.  It is just parts of the coasts which don’t have permanent ice.  Parts of the Transantarctic Mountains stick up from the ice too.  But the closest thing they have to vegetation is lichen.  The ice-free parts of the coasts have lichen on rocks and some places with moss.  There are only two species of flowering plant on the Antarctic mainland.  One with yellow flowers also grow on mountain tops in Latin America.  Otherwise there is a species of grass which grows of Tierra del Fuego, too.  Both are found on the Antarctic Peninsula which faces South America.

In the 1950ies it was clear there was a lack of easily accessible natural resources.  For this reason, the Antarctic Treaty was made and came into force in 1961.  According to this Antarctica may only be uses for peaceful purposes.  Mining is also banned.  Unfortunately, the Antarctic Treaty has been mythologised by people denying the existence of the South Pole.  They think the treaty banns people not part of a claimed conspiracy from coming to Antarctica.  Tourist trips to Antarctica are claimed to go to completely different places than stated.  As if no-one of the tourists would notice they were north of 60th southern parallel.  All the tourists are not that ignorant of how to find out such.


Uploaded on the 3rd of November 2023.