Population | no indigenous inhabitants, but there are both permanent and summer-only staffed research stations
note: 29 nations, all signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, operate through their National Antarctic Program a number of seasonal-only (summer) and year-round research stations on the continent and its nearby islands south of 60 degrees south latitude (the region covered by the Antarctic Treaty); the population doing and supporting science or engaged in the management and protection of the Antarctic region varies from approximately 4,400 in summer to 1,100 in winter; in addition, approximately 1,000 personnel, including ship's crew and scientists doing onboard research, are present in the waters of the treaty region; peak summer (December-February) population - 4,490 total (May 2009 est.)
Area | 14,000,000 SQ KM
Official Language | none
Time Zone | UMT
*note: In most places on Earth, local time is determined by longitude, such that the time of day is more-or-less synchronized to the position of the sun in the sky (for example, at midday the sun is roughly at its highest). This line of reasoning fails at the South Pole, where the sun rises and sets only once per year, and all lines of longitude, and hence all time zones, converge. There is no a priori reason for placing the South Pole in any particular time zone
Best time to visit | November to February for "summer" - or in time for solar eclipse
Connecting with the Environment | Bathing in Deception Island's thermally heated Pendulum Cove. Taking a cruise on an inflatable rubber dinghy among the icebergs. Scuba diving in McMurdo Sound.
Read | Ernest Shackleton's Aurora Australis, the only book ever published in Antarctica, and a personal account of Shackleton's 1907-09 Nimrod expedition.
Listen | to Doug Quinn's Antarctica - a collection of nature recordings
Watch | Koreyoshi Kurahara's Antarctica, the story of sled dogs on a 1958 Japanese expedition.
Eat | an Antarctic barbecue set up on the ice
Drink | an Antarctic Old Fashion, a blend of bourbon, LifeSavers sweets and snow
In a word | The 'A-factor' (the local term for the unexpected difficulties caused by the Antarctic environment)
Characeristics | Icebergs; penguins; freezing cold; geologists; expolorers; the South Pole; glaciers; seals; 24 - hour sunlight
Surprises | No polar bears (thats the Arctic); dehydration and sunburn are real risks.
NEWS ABOUT ANTARCTICA
Chile offers help to Brazil after Antarctic tragedy
(HN, 2/26/12) - President Sebastian Piñera of Chile, spoke with Brazilian President Dilma Roussef to show solidarity after a fire destroyed the Comandante Ferraz Antarctic base, killing 2 men & injuring another. In addition, the Chilean President offered reconstruction support for the base on King George Island. The Brazilians were initially given shelter at the Chilean base & then moved to Punta Arenas. Chilean military personnel recovered the 2 bodies. The fire started in the generator room of Brazil’s research base. President Roussef gave an official statement giving condolences for the lives lost in the tragedy, but expressed a commitment to continue Brazil’s research in the Antarctic. (Read More at ILOVECHILE)