“Antarctica” means something like “over the Arctic”, whose name can be derived from the constellation of the Arctic (Big Bear, Greek arctos).
Antarctica is located in the southern hemisphere. The closest land masses are Tierra del Fuego in South America and the islands of Tasmania and New Zealand.
The time difference between Antarctica and Germany is between -2 and -4 hours.
The continent of Antarctica, which is surrounded by the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic, covers around 13.2 square kilometers and is therefore almost 3 square kilometers larger than Europe. The coast of Antarctica consists to a large extent of ice shelves; This means large ice sheets that float on the sea and are firmly connected to the land by glaciers. The tabular icebergs, which break off the ice shelf and float on the sea, are also typical. The Antarctic is surrounded by a zone of pack ice, which consists of stacked ice floes, and is home to a lush ecosystem. The highest mountain is the 4,897 m high Mount Vinson.
Antarctica is the coldest continent on earth. In summer the temperatures on the polar plateu drop to -40 ° C, in winter even to -70 ° C. The winter temperatures on the coast are between -20 and -30 ° C, in summer sometimes the zero degree limit is reached. In the coastal areas around 600 mm of snow falls annually , in the interior and on the offshore islands this value is significantly higher.
Researchers suspect that the ice-covered mainland of Antarctica was not always an icy continent, but actually had a subtropical climate 70 million years ago and its forests were home to numerous animals.
The first sighting of Antarctica cannot be pinpointed to a specific event, but it is dated in January 1820. Just a year later, the American seal hunter John Davis was the first to set foot on the continent.
After a few advances by various nations, the actual conquest began in 1895 with the 6th International Geographical Congress in London: Scientists from all over the world were called on to undertake expeditions to Antarctica. This call is still followed today.
Flora and fauna
Due to the low temperatures and humidity, the flora of the Antarctic is limited to small, flowerless spore plants (Antarctic Schmiele and Antarctic Perlwurz), only two flowering plants are the exception among mosses, algae, fungi and lichens.
The fauna of the Antarctic, on the other hand, is more diverse: it is home to penguins, whales, seals, albatrosses, petrels, crustaceans and fish. The animal world is, however, almost exclusively limited to the coastal area and the Antarctic marine area.
The Antarctic economy plays no role in the present or the near future. However, the increasing demand for food and raw materials as well as the finite nature of various energy sources will presumably increase economic interest in Antarctica and its natural resources.
Despite its hostile environment for humans, the Antactis is becoming an increasingly popular travel destination for tourists. The trips, which are usually costly due to the seclusion, lack of infrastructure and strict environmental regulations, usually turn out to be cruises. However, there are also shore excursions to the continent and the offshore islands, as well as mountaineering tours for experienced hikers. Since 1995 there has also been an Antarctic marathon with a very limited number of participants.
Antarctica is not a nation state, which is why no entry requirements have to be observed. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 applies to German travelers. An entry permit from the Federal Environment Agency is therefore required on arrival.