How Many Countries Are There In Antarctica?
Antarctica is often listed as the 7th, and final, continent. If you’ve seen my list of how many countries in the world you’ll notice that none of them are part of Antarctica. There’s a simple explanation for that. When people ask how many countries are there in Antarctica, the answer is simple. There are exactly 0 countries in Antarctica.
Table of contents
- How Many Countries Are There In Antarctica?
- Is Antarctica a country?
- Antarctica? Or the South Pole? What’s the difference?!
- Why is Antarctica a continent? But the Arctic isn’t?!
- No Countries, but 7 nations want a piece
- How Many Bases in Antarctica?
- The Islands Of The Antarctic
Is Antarctica a country?
No. Antarctica is not a country. And if you consider that as my answer to ‘how many countries are in Antarctica’ is zero things can get confusing. Antarctica doesn’t belong to any country, it’s not a country itself BUT some countries have tried to claim it.
There are some pretty interesting things we need to look at to learn about this remote continent. I would say that this is the most unique continent I’ve visited (I visited Antarctica back in 2012), there are so many things I saw that would be impossible to find anywhere else on the planet.
Antarctica? Or the South Pole? What’s the difference?!
You may also hear the continent of Antarctica (wrongly) referred to as the South Pole. That’s simply because the Antarctic’s most southernmost point, the South Pole, is located on the continent of Antarctica.
The amazing thing about this place is that there are no permanent borders and even though it’s the 5th largest continent, the size of Antarctica isn’t actually constant. The exact size changes depending on the season. In summer it can be about 50% the size of the US and then in the winter can grow up to 2 times that size.
Why is Antarctica a continent? But the Arctic isn’t?!
Antarctica is considered a continent, whereas the Arctic isn’t (see below) because Antarctica is a huge landmass that is then covered in snow and ice on top of, and around the land continent.
The Arctic is very different from that.
So, is the Arctic A Continent?
No. The Arctic isn’t a continent. Why? Because it’s just ice. There is no land in the Arctic, just frozen water. So the North Pole, which is found on the frozen piece of ice that makes up the Arctic, isn’t on any continent.
As a side note, I once went to the North Pole and ran the ‘North Pole Marathon‘, crazy (and expensive) experience, and it was my first marathon!
No Countries, but 7 nations want a piece
Seven nations from around the globe lay claim to different parts of the continent. They are:
- New Zealand
So what interest do they have taking a piece of this remote continent? The main reason that countries have a presence in Antarctica is down to scientific research, they have facilities throughout the continent (usually in their claimed territory) to study the environment.
The 7 countries I mentioned above were part of the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959. The treaty ensured that all activity there was peaceful, that parties cooperate for scientific investigation, and that they all are completely transparent about the work they are doing. It is essentially there to make sure that Antarctica is preserved and no one can destroy the region, that is a real possibility if states try to drain it of natural resources.
There are also countries that don’t claim certain areas but also carry out research on the continent. They include the likes of Russia and the USA, they have their facilities in territories claimed by other member states.
How Many Bases in Antarctica?
There are currently 70 permanent scientific research stations found across the continent of Antarctica. They represent 29 countries from all 7 continents on our planet. Pretty cool.
The Islands Of The Antarctic
Not to be ignored are the 4 island territories which can be found on the Antarctic Plate. These islands have zero population and they don’t come under the treaty signed back in 1959. They are dependent territories of UN Member States:
- Bouvet Island (belongs to Norway)
- Hear Island and Mcdonald Islands (Australia)
- Districts of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (France)
- Prince Edward (South Africa)
Sometimes added to the list is South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (United Kingdom). But due to their location they can also be classed as part of South America.
It’s at this point in each post from my series of articles about each continent that I’d ask you guys if you agree with my country count. I think in this case there’s little debate about the total number being 0. However, if you do happen to think that I’m incorrect about that then I’d be interested to hear why! Leave your comments below – thanks for sharing guys.
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