By Steve Pedry 01/12/2022

10 Things About Antarctica That You Probably Didn't Know

Antarctica was the latest continent to be found, having been discovered in 1819. Prior to that, no one was certain that it existed.


It was found fairly recently

Throughout history, many countries have claimed Antarctica. In 1959, 48 countries signed the Antarctic Treaty, committing the region to peace and science.


No one owns Antarctica

It is over twice the size of the United States, at about 5.4 million square miles (14 million km2). Another interesting statistic about Antarctica is that it contains 90% of the world's ice.


Antarctica is large and vital

Antarctica roughly doubles in winter due to expanding sea ice. It means Antarctica cruises can only go in summer.


Its size changes according to the seasons

That's correct; there was no blunder there. In Antarctica, there is no standardization of the time. You are essentially free to choose for yourself.


It's timezoneless

Another startling truth about Antarctica is that it is classed as a desert. The average annual rainfall is only 2 inches (50mm), making it drier than the Sahara Desert.


Antarctica has less rain than Sahara

Meteorites don't crash here as frequently as they do elsewhere, but they're easy to detect against the stark Antarctic terrain.


Meteorite showers

While the Drake Passage and Cape Horn further north may be feared for their violent winds, Antarctica often experiences gales of up to 200 mph (320 kph).


The winds are legendary

At least two active volcanoes may be found in Antarctica. There are probably more, but they have yet to break through the ice.


Antarctica has volcanoes

Scientists have discovered fossils revealing that forests and diverse ecosystems of animals and birds once blanketed this freezing, windy desert 50 million years ago.


Antarctica was tropical once