Map of Antarctica
Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent. It is also the fifth-largest and least populous continent. Almost all of Antarctica lies within the Antarctic Circle, encircled by the Southern Ocean.
The continent is covered almost entirely by the Antarctic ice sheet — the largest block of ice on Earth — and it contains the South Pole, the southernmost point on Earth. 
Antarctica is a polar desert. It receives very little precipitation, and it is the world’s driest, windiest, iciest, and coldest continent. The lowest natural air temperature ever recorded was in Antarctica.
There is little opportunity for terrestrial life to survive in this inhospitable environment. Vegetation is scarce, existing mostly as lichen or moss. Antarctica’s coastal regions, however, are home to an abundance of marine species like penguins, seals, and sea lions. 
Antarctica has no government, but it is governed by a set of legally binding international agreements. The 1959 Antarctic Treaty and related agreements prohibit mining, military activity, mining, nuclear explosions, and nuclear waste disposal on the continent. Visitors to Antarctica are usually subject to the Antarctic laws that exist in their home country.

Facts about Antarctica

Sovereign CountriesPopulationLand Area (km²)Population Density (/km²)World %
N/A1,000-5,000 (depending on season)14,20000.00%

Antarctica is the windiest place on Earth

Commonwealth Bay in Antarctica is the windiest place on the planet. On average, the bay experiences wind speeds of 50 miles an hour, but regularly, they exceed 150 miles per hour.

There are more than 70 permanent research stations in Antarctica

Antarctica is the only continent without a native human population. Most of its inhabitants are scientists who live in research stations. There are more than 70 research stations in Antarctica, the largest of which is the US’s McMurdo Station. It has space for more than 1,000 people.

Antarctica holds most of the world’s freshwater

Around two-thirds of the world’s freshwater is frozen in Antarctica. If it were to melt, it would raise sea levels by almost 200 feet (60 meters).

Antarctica is classified as a desert

A desert is defined as a barren area of land with very little rainfall and hostile living conditions. The Antarctic fits this description, which means that at more than 5.5 million square miles, it is the largest desert in the world.

Longest River

Antarctica’s longest river is the Onyx River. It is 32 kilometers long, which is relatively short compared to the longest rivers on the other continents.

Highest Point

At 16,050 feet (4,892 meters), Mount Vinson is Antarctica’s highest point.

Largest Lake

Measuring 12,500 square kilometers (4,800 square miles), Lake Vostok — which lies beneath Russia’s Vostok Station — is the sixteenth-largest lake in the world and the world’s largest known subglacial lake. With a depth of 2,953 feet (900 meters), it is also the fifth-deepest lake in the world.

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