Antarctica

Antarctica

Use Normal Level of Caution

Antarctica, located almost entirely below the Antarctic Circle, is Earth’s most southern continent. Covering approximately 14,000,000 km2, Antarctica it is the fifth-largest continent on the globe. Approximately 98% of the territory is covered in ice.

Seven countries have made claims to the territory, but not all these claims are recognized by other countries and some of these claims overlap. In an attempt to establish a legal framework for the continent and its use, the Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by 12 nations. The treaty does not deny claims to the land, nor does it recognize these existing claims. Instead it states that Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes, for scientific research and for international cooperation. It also states that scientific information gained on the continent must be exchanged freely between nations, and between nations and international agencies such as the UN. Today, 53 nations have signed the treaty and 30 countries operate research stations on the continent. It is this treaty that forms the basis of the Antarctic Treaty System which governs Antarctica.

There is no indigenous population of Antarctica, however researchers from around the world maintain permanent research stations on the continent. Approximately 1,000 people live and work on the continent in the winter, while approximately 5,000 people live and work on the continent in the summer.

Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth. It also has the highest average elevation; the average elevation is between 2000m-4000m above sea level.

Despite the inhospitable weather conditions, tourist companies based abroad have established a small tourism industry for Antarctica. In 2014-2015, approximately 36,700 tourists visited the continent, most on commercial ships or private yachts. Commercial fishing also contributes to Antarctica’s small economy. There is no Antarctic currency. U.S. dollars, Pound Sterling and Euro are accepted in some areas.

There are no diseases to report, nor vaccinations required for Antarctica. Ensure routine vaccinations are up to date.

Currency None: None
Language There is no official language. Different languages may be spoken at different research stations. Major languages include Russian, English, German, Norwegian, Swedish and Spanish.
Capital None
Recent Alerts None
Latest Alert Not Available

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Antarctica. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

None required.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Antarctica.

None required.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Antarctica.

None required.

Safety and Security in Antarctica

Emergency Numbers

Personal Safety

It is strongly advised to only travel to Antarctica as part of a scientific research expedition or with a reliable tour group. Depending on the expedition, and the traveller’s citizenship, a permit may be required.

Antarctica is an extreme environment. Always prepare for poor weather and rough seas when travelling to Antarctica. Travel may be delayed or cancelled because of severe weather. Always wear proper clothing and footwear, with good foot grip for the challenging outdoor conditions. Always keep your valuables in a sealable, dry bag when going ashore and only remove them when you are well on land. Come prepared with the food, equipment and clothing you will need to be self-sufficient during your visit.
Travellers should note that there are strict guidelines for visiting Antarctica. Do not interfere with Antarctic wildlife or vegetation. Keep at a safe distance from wildlife and do not attempt to approach or feed them. Walk only on designated tracks to reduce vegetation damage. Do not interfere with scientific research. Leave no trace of your visit.

Ensure travel insurance is purchased before departing as there are no emergency medical facilities on the continent. In the case of a medical emergency, evacuation will likely be required. There are no diseases to report, nor vaccinations required for Antarctica. Ensure routine vaccinations are up to date.

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