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                            Smith's Antarctic Flag proposal 1978]
1978: Proposed Flag (Whitney Smith)
                            Bartram's Antarctic Flag proposal 1996]
1996: Proposed Flag (Graham Bartram)

                          Townsend's Antarctic Flag - True South
                          proposal 2018]
2018: Proposed Flag
(Evan Townsend)

[Antarctic Treaty
                            Secretariat flag]
Antarctic Treaty Secretariat Flag
Adopted 20 Sep 2002
Map of Antarctica Map of Antarctic Research
Stations & Territorial Claims
Antarctic Treaty
(23 Jun 1961)
Major Stations: Amundsen-Scott (US),
Belgrano (Arg.), Bernardo O'Higgins (Chile),
Dumont d'Urville (Fr.), Halley (UK), Maitri (India),
Mawson (Aus.), McMurdo (US),
Neumayer III (Ger), Palmer (US), Scott (NZ), Shōwa (Jap.), SANAE IV (South Africa), Troll (Norway), Vostok (Rus.),
Zhongshan (China)
Currency: No Common
Holidays: Jun. 20 or 21
Midwinter Day
(southern winter solstice day)

(de facto; unofficial)
1 Dec. (1959)
Antarctica Day
(unofficial from 2010)
Population: Uninhabited
Approx. Seasonal Research Staff:
Summer (Dec.-Feb.): 4,713 (2024)
Winter (Jun.-Aug.): 1,056 (2024)
Total Armed Forces: Antarctic Treaty prohibits any measures of a military nature GDP: Scientific undertakings rather than commercial pursuits are the
predominate human activity in Antarctica. Fishing off the coast and tourism, both based abroad, account for Antarctica's limited economic activity.
Peak Summer (December-February) maximum capacity in scientific stations - 4,713 total; Argentina 425, Australia 238, Belarus 15, Belgium 55, Brazil 64, Bulgaria 25, Chile 375, China 164, Czechia 32, Ecuador 35, Finland 16, France 136, France and Italy jointly 70, Germany 60, India 72, Italy 150, Japan 130, South Korea 158, New Zealand 85, Norway 60, Peru 30, Poland 41, Russia 211, South Africa 80, Spain 79, Sweden 16, Ukraine 15, United Kingdom 315, United States 1,495, and Uruguay 66 (2024)
Winter (June-August) maximum capacity in scientific stations - 1,056 total; Argentina 221, Australia 52, Brazil 15, Chile 114, China 32, France 24, France and Italy jointly 13, Germany 9, India 48, Japan 40, The Netherlands 10, South Korea 25, New Zealand 11, Norway 7, Poland 16, Russia 125, South Africa 15, Ukraine 12, U.K. 44, U.S. 215, and Uruguay 8 (2024)
Number of Year-round research stations operated within the Antarctic Treaty area (south of 60 degrees south latitude) by National Antarctic Programs -  approximately 47 total; Argentina 6, Australia 3, Brazil 1, Chile 4, China 2, France 1, France and Italy jointly 1, Germany 2, India 2, Japan 1, South Korea 2, New Zealand 1, Norway 1, Poland 1, Russia 5, South Africa 1, Ukraine 1, U.K. 8, U.S. 3, and Uruguay 1 (2024)
Summer-only Stations, refuges, depots, and laboratories - Argentina 7, Australia 1, Belarus 1, Belgium 1, Brazil 1, Bulgaria 1, Chile 8, China 2, Czechia 1, Ecuador 1, Finland 1, France and Italy 1, Germany 1, India 1, Italy 1, Japan 1, South Korea 1, The Netherlands 1, New Zealand 1, Norway 1, Pakistan 1, Peru 1, Poland 1, Romania 1, Russia 1, South Africa 1, Spain 1, Sweden 2, Turkey 1, Ukraine 1, U.K. 1, U.S. 2, and Uruguay 1 (2023); in addition, during the austral summer some nations have numerous occupied locations such as tent camps, summer-long temporary facilities, and mobile traverses in support of research.
24 Jan 1539 - 29 May 1555  King of Spain, Charles V, created the Governorate of
                             Terra Australis (Gobernación de la Terra
                             Australis), which encompassed lands south of the
                             Strait of Magellan and theoretically Antarctica,
                             the existence of which was only hypothesized at the
                             time. Spain claimed all the territories to the
                             south of the Strait of Magellan until the South
                             Pole, with eastern and western borders to these
                             claims specified in the Treaties of Tordesillas and
                             Zaragoza respectively.
Dec 1773 - Jan 1775        British Capt. James Cook (b. 1728 - d. 1779)
                             circumnavigates the continent without sighting
16 Feb 1819                First sighting of the Antarctic Peninsula and South
                             Shetland Islands by British Capt. William Smith
                             (b. c.1790 - d. 1847). 
27 Jan 1820                Russian Capt. Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen
                             (Faddey Faddeyevich Bellinsgauzen)(b. 1778 - d.
                             1852) sights and lays claim to being the first
                             person to set eyes on the Antarctic continent.
16 Nov 1820                Palmer Land discovered by American Capt. Nathaniel
                             Brown Palmer (b. 1799 - d. 1877).
 7 Feb 1821                U.S. Capt. John Davis (b. 1784 - d. 1861) makes
                             first known landing on the continent at Hughes
                             Bay on Antarctic Peninsula.
24 Feb 1831                First sighting of the Antarctic continent in the
                             Indian Ocean sector (Enderby Land) by British 
                             Capt. John Biscoe (b. 1794 - d. 1843), in the
                             Tula and Lively.
21 Feb 1832                Graham Land in Antarctica annexed for U.K. by
                             Capt. John Biscoe (b. 1794 - d. 1843).  
 9 Feb 1839                First landing south of the Antarctic Circle by     
                             British Capt. John Balleny (b. 1770 - d. 1857)
                             in the Eliza Scott, discovered and landed on the
                             Balleny Islands.
21 Jan 1840                Adelie Land (Terre Adélie) in Antarctica discovered
                             and claimed for France by Capt. Jules Sébastien
                             César Dumont d'Urville (b. 1790 - d. 1842).
 9 Feb 1841                Ross Ice Shelf and Victoria Land claimed for
                             for U.K. by British Capt. James Clark Ross
                             (b. 1800 - d. 1862) in HMS Erebus.
26 Jan 1853                First landing on Greater Antarctica (Victoria Land)
                             by American Capt. Mercator Cooper (b. 1803 - d.
                             1872) in the Levant
24 Jan 1895                Carsten Borchgrevink (b. 1864 - d. 1934) made the
                             first landing on Antarctica since Davis. Three
                             years later he led the first party to winter on
                             the continent.
22 Feb 1902                Kaiser Wilhelm II Land (Kaiser-Wilhelm-II.-Land) or
                             the Wilhelm II Coast (Wilhelm-II-Küste) discovered
                             and named by Erich Dagobert von Drygalski (b. 1865
                             - d. 1889), leader of the German Gauss (Deutsche
                             Südpolar) Expedition to Antarctica.
 1 Apr 1903 - 22 Feb 1904  First permanent scientific station established in
                             the Antarctic, at Laurie Island, South Orkneys by
                             the Scottish National Antarctic expedition under
                             William Speirs Bruce (b. 1867 - d. 1921).
22 Feb 1904                Argentina began to occupy Antarctic lands when
                             purchasing the meteorological station belonging
                             to the Scottish Dr. William Speirs Bruce, on
                             Laurie island, South Orkney islands.
14 Dec 1911                Roald Amundsen (b. 1872 - d. 1928) of Norway reaches
                             the South Pole; on 18 Jan 1912 U.K. Capt. Robert
                             Falcon Scott (b. 1868 - d. 1912) located the South
                             Pole but dies on the return trip.
28 Jan 1912                Lt. Shirase Nobu (b. 1861 - d. 1941) claims the
                             Antarctic territory spanning the entirety of the
                             Ross Ice Shelf for Japan as Yamato Yukihara ("The
                             Japan Snow Plain"), claim not recognized by Japan
                            (part of the area named the Shirase Coast in 1961).
                             Japanese claims are renounced by the Treaty of San
                             Francisco 8 Sep 1951 (ratified 28 Apr 1952).
21 Feb 1912                Queen Mary Land (or Queen Mary Coast) claimed for
                             U.K. and named by Douglas Mawson (b. 1882 - d.
                             1958) of Australia.
16 Aug 1923                Antarctic seas which comprised all the islands and
                             territories between 160°E and 150°W longitudes
                             situated south of 60° S annexed by the U.K.
                             to New Zealand and is named Ross Dependency
                             (by order of 30 Jul 1923).
21 Nov 1924                Adelie Land (
Terre Adélie) is annexed by France.
29 Nov 1929                U.S. explorer Richard E. Byrd (b. 1888 - d. 19
                             made the first flight over the South Pole from
                             Little America Base. 
13 Jan 1930                Enderby Land is claimed for U.K. by Sir Douglas
13 Jun 1933                British order annexes the part of Antarctica south of
                             60° and between longitudes 45° E and 160° E
                             (excluding French Terre Adelie 136°E to 142°E), and
                             transfers it to Australia.
14 Jan 1939                Queen Maud Land (Dronning Maud Land) in Antarctica
                             (45°E to 20°E) formally claimed as a possession
                             of Norway.
19 Jan - 15 Feb 1939       The area 20°E to 10°W is explored by a German
                             expedition led by Alfred Ritscher and named
                             New Swabia (Neu-Schwabenland), but not claimed. 
 6 Nov 1940                Chilean Antarctic (Antártica Chilena), defined as
                             between longitudes 53°W to 90°W, claimed by Chile.
13 Jan 1941                German commandos board and capture two Norwegian 
                             factory ships in the sea north of Queen Maud Land.
                             By the end of the next day, the Germans had taken
                             possession of three factory ships and eleven
                             catchers. The German Navy subsequently used the
                             waters of the Peninsula and the sub-Antarctic
                             islands as a haven from which they could venture
                             forth to attack allied shipping. Their main base
                             was an obscure harbor on Kergulen Island.
  8 Feb 1942                Argentine Antarctica (Antártida Argentina) claimed
                             by Argentina between longitudes and 68° W and 24° W
                             (formally taking possession 8 Nov 1942).
1943 - 1945                British dispatch a naval missions to Antarctica
                             ("Operation Tabarin") which established the first
                             permanent British scientific bases.
31 Oct 1956                First permanent station at South Pole built
                             (Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station).
 1 Jul 1957 - 31 Dec 1958  International Geophysical Year (IGY), scientists
                             of 67 nations research the Antarctica environment.
24 Nov 1957 -  2 Mar 1958  First successful land traverse of Antarctica by
                             British Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic expedition
                             (CTAE) under Vivian Fuchs (b. 1908 - d. 1999)
                             covers Weddell Sea to Ross Sea via the South
16 Dec 1957                South Geomagnetic Pole reached for the first time
                             by a tractor traverse by the Soviet Union. 
 1 Dec 1959                Antarctic Treaty signed  in Washington, D.C. by 12
23 Jun 1961                Antarctic Treaty enters into force.
 7 Jan 1978                Argentine, Emilio Marcos Palma, becomes the first
                             recorded human to be born in Antarctica.
11 Mar 1978                Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals
                             (of 11 Feb 1972) enters into force.
 7 Apr 1982                Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine
                             Living Resources (CCAMLR)(of 1 Aug 1980) enters
                             into force.
 1 Nov 1982                Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic
                             Fauna and Flora (of 2 Jun 1964) enters into force.
13 Feb 1987 - Dec 1991     World Park Base a non-governmental year-round
                             base located at Cape Evans on Ross Island in
                             the Ross Dependency established by Greenpeace.
 2 Jun 1988                Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral
                             Resources (CRAMRA) signed.
14 Jan 1998                Protocol on Environmental Protection to the
                             Antarctic Treaty ("Madrid Protocol")(of 4 Oct
                             1991) enters into force.
 1 Sep 2004                Secretariat of Antarctic Treaty established in Buenos
                             Aires, Argentina.
Argentina Claim
Australia Claim
British Claim
Chile Claim
France Claim
New Zealand Claim
Norway Claim
South Africa

Antarctic Treaty


    Antarctic Treaty — The Antarctic Treaty, signed on 1 Dec 1959 and entered into force on 23 Jun 1961, establishes the legal framework for the management of Antarctica. Administration is carried out through consultative member meetings.
    Summary: Article 1 - area to be used for peaceful purposes only; military activity, such as weapons testing, is prohibited, but military personnel and equipment may be used for scientific research or any other peaceful purpose; Article 2 - freedom of scientific investigation and cooperation shall continue; Article 3 - free exchange of information and personnel, cooperation with the UN and other international agencies; Article 4 - does not recognize, dispute, or establish territorial claims and no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force; Article 5 - prohibits nuclear explosions or disposal of radioactive wastes; Article 6 - includes under the treaty all land and ice shelves south of 60 degrees 00 minutes south and reserves high seas rights; Article 7 - treaty-state observers have free access, including aerial observation, to any area and may inspect all stations, installations, and equipment; advance notice of all expeditions and of the introduction of military personnel must be given; Article 8 - allows for jurisdiction over observers and scientists by their own states; Article 9 - frequent consultative meetings take place among member nations; Article 10 - treaty states will discourage activities by any country in Antarctica that are contrary to the treaty; Article 11 - disputes to be settled peacefully by the parties concerned or, ultimately, by the ICJ; Articles 12, 13, 14 - deal with upholding, interpreting, and amending the treaty among involved nations; other agreements - some 200 recommendations adopted at treaty consultative meetings and ratified by governments; a mineral resources agreement was signed in 1988 but remains un-ratified; the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty was signed 4 Oct 1991 and entered into force 14 Jan 1998; this agreement provides for the protection of the Antarctic environment through six specific annexes: 1) environmental impact assessment, 2) conservation of Antarctic fauna and flora, 3) waste disposal and waste management, 4) prevention of marine pollution, 5) area protection and management and 6) liability arising from environmental emergencies; it prohibits all activities relating to mineral resources except scientific research; a permanent Antarctic Treaty Secretariat was established in 2004 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Antarctic Treaty Secretariat

Executive Secretaries of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat (in Buenos Aires, Argentina)
 1 Sep 2004 - 31 Aug 2009  Johannes "Jan" Huber               (b. 1947)
                             (The Netherlands)
 1 Sep 2009 - 31 Aug 2017  Manfred Reinke (Germany)           (b. 1952)
 1 Sep 2017 -              Albert Alexander Lluberas Bonaba

Antarctic Treaty membership (57) 
Dates of 
Member Nations
23 Jun 1961 Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Soviet Union1, United Kingdom, United
14 Jun 1962 Czechoslovakia2
20 May 1965 Denmark
30 Mar 1967 The Netherlands
15 Sep 1971 Romania
19 Nov 1974 East Germany3
16 May 1975 Brazil
11 Sep 1978 Bulgaria
 5 Feb 1979 West Germany3
11 Jan 1980 Uruguay
16 Mar 1981 Papua New Guinea4
18 Mar 1981 Italy
10 Apr 1981 Peru
31 Mar 1982 Spain
 8 Jun 1983 China
19 Aug 1983 India
27 Jan 1984 Hungary
24 Apr 1984 Sweden
15 May 1984 Finland
16 Aug 1984 Cuba
28 Nov 1986 South Korea
 8 Jan 1987 Greece
21 Jan 1987 North Korea
25 Aug 1987 Austria
15 Sep 1987 Ecuador
 4 May 1988 Canada
31 Jan 1989 Colombia
15 Nov 1990 Switzerland
31 Jul 1991 Guatemala
28 Oct 1992 Ukraine
25 Jan 1996 Turkey5
 1 Jan 1993
Czech Republic, Slovakia
24 May 1999 Venezuela
17 May 2001 Estonia
27 Dec 2006
30 May 2008
29 Jan 2010
31 Oct 2011
 1 Mar 2012
27 Jan 2015
23 Mar 2015
13 Oct 2015
22 Apr 2019
11 Aug 2022
Costa Rica
14 Feb 2023
San Marino
22 May 2024
Saudi Arabia
1Soviet Union dissolved 25 Dec 1991, succeeded by Russia. 2Czechoslovakia dissolved 31 Dec 1992; on 1 Jan 1993 succeeded by Czech Republic and Slovakia. 3East and West Germany united 3 Oct 1990. 4date of deposit of notification of succession by Papua New Guinea; effective 16 Sep 1975 the date of its independence. 5from 1 Jun 2022 Türkiye.

Antarctic Territorial Claims


[Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e
                Islas del Atlántico Sur flag]

Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica, and the Island of the South Atlantic (Tierra del Fuego, Antárctica y Islas del Atlántico Sur); includes Argentine claim, 74°W and 25°W; overlaps British and Chilean claims. Claimed: 8 Feb 1942


[flag of Australia]

Australian Antarctic Territory Australian claim, 160°E to 142°E and 136°E to 45°E;
Claimed: 13 Jun 1933 


[Chilean Región XII Magallanes
                y Antártica Chilena]

Magellanes and Chilean Antarctica (Magallanes y Antárctica Chilena); includes Chilean claim, 53°W to 90°W; overlaps Argentine and British claims. Claimed: 6 Nov 1940


[flag of French Southern and
                Antarctic Lands]

French Southern and Antarctic Lands (Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises) Adelie Land; includes French claim, 142°E to 136°W. Claimed: 21 Nov 1924

New Zealand

[Flag of New Zealand]

New Zealand Antarctic Territory (Ross Dependency) New Zealand claim, 160°E to 150°W. Claimed: 30 Jul 1923


[Flag of Norway]

Norwegian Antarctic Territory (Dronning Maud Land) Queen Maud Land; Norwegian claim, 45°E to 20°E with Peter I Island. Claimed: 14 Jan 1938

United Kingdom

[British Antarctic Territory

British Antarctic Territories (Graham Land) British claim, 20° W and 80°W; Argentine and Chilean claims overlap. Claimed: 21 Jul 1908

Unofficial Claims



Brazilian Antarctica (Antártida Brasileira) proposed claim, 28°W to 53°W south of 60°; zone overlaps Argentine, British and Chilean claims. Zone of Interest first proposed: 1986


[Germany flag 1871-1921]

New Swabia Land (Neu-Schwabenland) area explored 20°E to 10°W, overlaps Norwegian claim. Area was not formally claimed by Germany. Explored: 19 Jan - 6 Feb 1939

South Africa

[flag of South Africa

South African Antarctica South African unverified claim: 1963 - 1993?

Spain (Castile)

[Burgundy Cross Flag, Banner
                of Spain, 1506-1785 (Spain)]

Governorate of the Southern Land (Gobernación de la Terra Australis) nominally covered Tierra del Fuego, which was considered part of the continent of Terra Australis (Antarctica) and all the territories from the south of the Strait of Magellan. Spain (Castile) Nominal claim: 1539-1555.


[Flag of Uruguay]

Uruguayan Antarctica (Antártida Uruguaya), coordinates 0°W 25°W, overlapping with the Norwegian and British claims. Uruguay Proposed claim: 1973

Antarctica International Disputes: The Antarctic Treaty freezes claims (see Antarctic Treaty Summary in Government type entry); sections (some overlapping) claimed by Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and U.K.; Australia, Chile, and Argentina claim Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) rights or similar over 200 nm extensions seaward from their continental claims, but like the claims themselves, these zones are not accepted by other countries; 22 of 29 Antarctic consultative nations have made no claims to Antarctic territory, although Russia and the U.S. have reserved the right to do so (and do not recognize the claims of the other nations), and no country can make a new claim; no claims have been made in the sector between 90 degrees west and 150 degrees west; the International Whaling Commission created a sanctuary around the entire continent to deter catches by countries claiming to conduct scientific whaling; Australia has established a similar preserve in the waters around its territorial claim.

©  Ben Cahoon