The Earth’s southernmost continent is the Antarctica which is located underlying the South Pole in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere and it is surrounded by the Southern Ocean.
Antarctica continent is formed by two major regions: West Antarctica which is a mountainous archipelago that includes the Antarctic Peninsula and East Antarctica which geologically is a continental shield. Both regions are joined into a single continental mass by an ice sheet thousands of feet thick.
Besides the Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent in area (c.5,500,000 sq mi 14,245,000 sq km) after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. It is about 1.3 times as large as Europe. Almost 96% of Antarctica is covered by ice. For instance if Antarctica’s ice sheets melted, the world´s oceans would rise by 65 to 70 meters (200 – 210feet) in everywhere. The areas free of ice are mountain peaks, arid “dry valleys,” small coastal areas, and islands.
The Antarctic weather is characterized by, high wind velocities frequent blizzards and low temperature. High altitude and continuous darkness in winter combine ones each others to make the Antarctica the coldest place on earth.
During the winter the temperatures are -70°F (-57°C) and even lower. In the summer temperatures are unlikely to be warmer than 0°F (-18°C);
Nowadays, in the Antarctica, there are not economic activities, except for fishing off the coast and small-scale tourism based on cruise ships.
There is no native human population in Antarctica, the people who lives there mainly consist of the researchers and the scientists, who are constantly engaged in carrying out various experiments all through the year. During the winter season the number of scientists and researchers reaches to 1000 and in the summer up to 4000.
The flora and fauna in the Antarctic continent is not available in plenty in comparison with the other continents because of the lack of sunlight, the chilling temperature, little rainfall, the lack of moisture account and inferior soil quality for scanty vegetation in this area. So the flora remains confined mostly to liverworts, mosses, algae, fungi, bryophytes and lichens.
The animals in the Antarctica consist of invertebrate, the Snow Petrel which is the only breeding species of birds, and many marine creatures that include fur seals, blue whales and orcas. Also the penguins Emperor, Adelie and the Rockhopper can be found in the Antarctica.
What to see and do in Antarctica
Antarctic Peninsula – The tip of Antarctica Continent:
It is the most accessible part of the frozen Antarctic Peninsula
Here during the summer travelers can watch whales, penguins, seals and sea birds like albatross among others.
This Peninsula also is the principal tourist destination of the Cruise ships departing from South America.
The South Atlantic Sub Antarctic Islands (Falkland and South Georgia Islands):
These islands are a great place to visit. The incredible Falkland Islands form a fascinating contrast to the bleakness of Antarctica. On the other hand, South Georgia, gives a real introduction to the wilderness which is Antarctica.
But at same times in both islands the tourists will feel like they are at the end of the world!
In both islands a fantastic amount of wildlife can be found , including whales, seals, penguins and a wide variety of other seabirds may be watched almost anywhere around these islands.
Bays of East Antarctica
In this remote area is impossible to see a tourist because heavy pack ice combined with very high winds makes access difficult, besides, the inland is known as the coldest place on Earth. Anyway, the region is home of numerous emperor penguins.
Here in the East, the most amazing landmarks of this area are the enormous Mertz Glacier and Ninnis Glacier, both have an imposing sight as the extend a long way from the land across the Antarctic Seas.
Magnetic South Pole and Commonwealth Bay
Located in the remote east of the Antarctic Continent, this place is home of a great variety of wildlife like the Emperor Penguins and Commonwealth Bay. It is also the area where the Magnetic South Pole currently lies.
It is the Southernmost point of Planet Earth and it is located deeply in the heart of the Antarctic wilderness, the Terrestrial South Pole lies on a featureless icy plateau at an altitude of 2,835 meters at 90°S 0°W.