Although legends and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") go back to antiquity, the first commonly accepted sighting of the continent occurred in 1820 and the first verified landing in 1821. A 1513 map by Admiral Piri Reis, however, contains a southern continent that bears a possible resemblance to the Antarctic coast. (See also History of Antarctica).
Antarctica is the fifth largest continent in area, after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. However, it is by far the smallest in population: indeed, it has no permanent population at all. It is also the continent with the highest average altitude, and the lowest average humidity of any continent on Earth, as well as the lowest average temperature.
Several nations, particularly those close to the continent, made territorial claims in the 20th century. These claims have little practical relevance due to the Antarctic Treaty which came into effect in 1961, but continue to be observed by cartographers.
Most countries that have observation or study facilities in Antarctica have those facilities within their claimed territory. The Antarctic Treaty defers these claims and most other nations do not recognize them. No other nations have made claims themselves, although the United States and Russia assert the right to do so.
Argentina: 25°W to 74°W; overlaps Chilean and British claims; claimed 1943 as part of the Tierra del Fuego - Antarctica & South Atlantic Isles province
The Antarctic Treaty prohibits any measures of a military nature in Antarctica, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military manoeuvers, or the testing of any type of weapon. It permits the use of military personnel or equipment for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes.
The Antarctic Large Marine Ecosystem is defined by the Antarctic Convergence (or Antarctic Polar Front), the boundary oscillating between 48 and 60 degrees of South Latitude that separates the colder Antarctic surface waters from the warmer sub-Antarctic waters to the North.
Antarcticice seals, Antarctic fur seals and seabirds are studied by many laboratories around the world.
The Antarctic continent and surrounding Southern Ocean are administered under the Antarctic Treaty system which is the whole complex of arrangements made for regulating relations among states in the Antarctic.
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