50 amazing facts about Antarctica

It's occupied year-round

subglacial lake whillans in antarctica

(Image credit: Govert Schilling)

There is a year-round presence of researchers on Antarctica, peaking at more than 4,000 in the prime summer research season and falling to around 1,000 in the winter season.

It's uninhabited

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, antarctica

(Image credit: Corey Anthony, National Science Foundation)

There are no indigenous populations of people on Antarctica.

A child was born on Antarctica

Argentine Antarctic research station

(Image credit: CIA World Factbook.)

In January 1979, Emile Marco Palma became the first child born on the southernmost continent. Argentina sent Palma's pregnant mother to Antarctica in an effort to claim a portion of the continent.

Felicity Aston skied across Antarctica

Felicity Aston, antarctica

(Image credit: Felicity Aston.)

British explorer and meteorologist Felicity Aston was the first person ever to ski across Antarctica powered only by human muscle. She traveled 1,084 miles (1,744 kilometers) in 59 days between late 2011 and early 2012.

It's a tourist site

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(Image credit: Image courtesy of Aleks Terauds.)

In 2011, nearly 20,000 tourists visited the Antarctic Peninsula, according to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators.

Antarctica has some dark nights

Winter darkness in Antarctica

(Image credit: Hailaeos Troy, National Science Foundation.)

Like the Arctic to the north, most of Antarctica is completely dark during the region's winter months. Because of the Earth's tilt, during the austral winter, the sun disappears below the horizon for the duration of winter, from the autumnal to the vernal equinox.

In summer months, it's a haven of sunlight

Summer at the south pole, antarctica

(Image credit: Forest Banks, National Science Foundation)

During the summer months, when the sun is constantly above the horizon, more sunlight reaches the surface at the South Pole than over a similar period of time at the equator, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Antarctica has a unique location

Antarctica map

(Image credit: NASA)

Antarctica lies almost entirely within the Antarctic Circle, which is at about 66 degrees south latitude.

The nematode worm is Antarctica's most abundant land animal

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(Image credit: Byron Adams.)

The most abundant land animal on Antarctica is not the penguin, but the tiny nematode worm.

Penguins populate the continent

Emperor penguins

(Image credit: British Antarctic Survey)

Penguins are the most common bird in Antarctica and live in colonies with populations that would rival some cities, according to the British Antarctic Survey.

Andrea Thompson
Live Science Contributor

Andrea Thompson is an associate editor at Scientific American, where she covers sustainability, energy and the environment. Prior to that, she was a senior writer covering climate science at Climate Central and a reporter and editor at Live Science, where she primarily covered Earth science and the environment. She holds a graduate degree in science health and environmental reporting from New York University, as well as a bachelor of science and and masters of science in atmospheric chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.