Antarctica Facts - Uncover the Secrets of This Icy Land

Looking for some 'cool' Antarctica facts and information? This icy land has many interesting facts that will surprise you. The following article on Antarctica will uncover some secrets of the white icy planes.
Adelie penguin, Orcadas base
Antarctica is a continent right at the bottom of the earth. It is the fifth largest continent on the earth and has a total area of 14 million km2. The South Pole lies in Antarctica and it is the coldest place on earth. The lowest temperature of Antarctica that has been measured till date was -128.6 ºF in 1983. Even the summer temperatures range -40 to -94 ºF in the inland and -5 to -22 ºF on the coastal areas. Scientists believe that once Antarctica was a part of the southern continents, that is the Gondwanaland and had warm climates. It broke off from the mainlands and drifted towards the south pole. The scientists can say this because of the fossilized plants and animals found in Antarctica.

Antarctica soil is covered with over 98% of ice and contains 70% of the freshwater in its icecap. You will be surprised to know that Antarctica is bigger than Australia and Europe. It is about one and a half times the size of United States and is the fifth largest continent on Earth. Because of the extreme cold climate of Antarctica, only a few insects survive in the interior regions. Penguins and seals live on the coast of Antarctica. There aquatic life is full of different species of fish and whales, which migrate to the Antarctica waters in summers. Antarctica has a hostile climate. The only humans found in Antarctica are researchers, scientist, biologists, etc. During the warm months many tourist folk to the icy lands of Antarctica. 

Let us see some more interesting Antarctica facts for children with images.
Fast Facts About Antarctica
You will be surprised to know, Antarctica has been discovered just 191 years ago. The ancient Greeks did not figure out Antarctica on their maps. It was only in 1820 when explorers stumbled upon this icy mass. An Estonian-born captain of the Imperial Russian Navy, Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen was the first person to sight Antarctica on 27 January 1820.

However, there is a dispute as to who set foot on the continent first. The first person to set foot on this continent was John Davis, an American sealer (on 7th February 1821). It is said, the first man to ever set his foot on Antarctica was Henry Bull and his party in 1895. Before Henry, no man had ever set his foot on the cold lands of Antarctica at Cape Adare. The first women to visit Antarctica was, in 1935, Catherine Mikkelson, who was the wife of a Norwegian whaling captain. However, they were supposed to be unknown to the fact that John Davis had claimed to walk on the Antarctic Peninsula earlier in 1821! The first ship to reach the geographic South Pole was Fram in an expedition led by Norwegian polar explorer, Ronal Amundsen. He reached the South Pole on 14th December 1911.

The 'white continent', in spite of containing 70% of the world's freshwater content, is the driest place on earth. It is a desolate, windy and remote continent that has a rich marine life. The recorded gusts of winds of Antarctica are up to 327 km/hr, making it one of the windiest places on earth. There are hundreds of penguins living off the coast of Antarctica and 6 different species of seals that share the white lands. The water is home to 9 types of whales and many species of birds, like the albatrosses who are found living on the coast of Antarctica.

The region of Antarctica that is below 60 degrees south has 1 longest day and night every year. The day and night are so long, that the sun rises in the month of October and sets in the month of March! Antarctica is supposed to be the windiest continent and has the highest elevation in the world. It is considered to be a desert with only 1,000 to 5,000 people residing on its land. These people are mostly explorers and scientists who live in research stations. The Mawson station is said to be the windiest place on earth. The average wind speed is calculated at 37 kmph (23 mph) and the maximum gust recorded was about 154 mph.

The warm-blooded animals like whales, penguins and seals living on and off the coast of Antarctica have thick layers of fat called blubber. This blubber helps insulate these animals from the bitter cold. An interesting Antarctica fact is about the Emperor penguin. It is the only warm-blooded animal to live in Antarctica during the harsh winters. The female lays one egg in June and goes off to the sea for the entire winter. The male penguins stay back on land and keeps their eggs warm. The eggs are kept warm in a peculiar way by balancing the egg on their feet and covering it with a flap of their abdominal skin. The male penguins survive the extremely inhospitable conditions without food and water for 9 weeks! The females return just in time when the eggs hatch. The krill is one of the most important animals of Antarctica. This tiny crustacean is the main source of food for seals whales and penguins.

Antarctica glaciers are giant ice waves that flow towards the sea very slowly. Antarctica is the highest continent in the world averaging about 2300 meters above sea level. This is due to the massive ice cap covering the entire white land. Vinson Massif, with a height of 4900 m, is the highest peak of Antarctica. The continent is extremely cold because 80% of the radiation from the sun reaching Antarctica is reflected back in space. This refection is due to the ice and snow covering Antarctica. The other 20% is absorbed by the atmosphere or reflected by the coverings of clouds.

Antarctica does not belong to any particular country. Twelve nations had signed a treaty called 'The Antarctica Treaty' that helps regulate the research activity, economic exploitation and territorial claims in Antarctica. There is no official language of Antarctica and no official currency. There are no legislative bodies or advisory committee of Antarctica. Ships are the major source of transportation. The best place to study meteorites is Antarctica. They are clearly visible on the white sheets of ice. The meteorites do not get covered by vegetation and get trapped into the ice, thus making it very easy to study meteorites in detail.
Well, these were a few Antarctica facts and information that must have amazed you. Antarctica is the biggest laboratory of the world with over 4000 scientists working on different projects. Another fact that is always a point of confusion is that polar bears and Eskimos are native to the Arctic and NOT the Antarctica. I hope you have found many useful and cool facts, and information about Antarctica in this article.