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History of Antarctica

The concept of a land mass down south to balance the world can be found in the ancient texts of Greece under the name of ‘Ant-Arktos’. During the Voyages of Discovery many explorers tried their best to find this giant mass of land but failed. It was much later, in 1773 that Captain James Cook became the first person ever to sight the continent and with this the legend was laid to rest and Antarctica was no longer just a myth but became a reality, thus opening the door to further explorations.

In December 1839, a US expedition sailed from Sydney and reported land south of the Balleny Islands and called it Wilkes Land. Subsequently James Clark Ross took two ships and discovered the Ross Ice Shelf along with 145 new species of fish and an active volcano which he named after his ship ‘Erebus’.

Many more such expeditions followed but it was not until 1911 when Roald Amundsen led a five man expedition that someone actually stepped on the continent, paving the way for more developments. By 1958, 12 nations established 60 stations here and the Antarctic Treaty came in to effect in 1961 according to this 45 nations collectively carry out researches and oversee other matters.

Today the continent, because it has been well preserved due to ice is becoming one of the most popular places to learn about the earth’s geological evolution and scientific expeditions are being carried out here to study effects of global warming.


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