Wednesday, December 11, 2013
DEC 11 WHO OWNS ANTARTICA?
This week's blog comes to us from the Antarctic! That's where the Virgin Money South Pole Allied Challenge is taking place. Basically, it's a bunch of wealthy, adventurous dudes who are racing to the South Pole for charity. It's too bad the event isn't being turned into a Reality TV show. We love the stars. There's Hunky Prince Harry, "True Blood" star Alexander Skarsgard and Dominic West from 'The Wire.' Watching them slogging through the snow would make for a great show!
Anyhow, we here at the DUNER BLOG saw the event as a great opportunity to answer the age old question: Who owns Antarctica anyhow?
RUSSIA. If any one nation has a valid claim to the entire continent, it's Russia. Per the colonial rules: Whichever European explorer sees a land mass first, gets to claim it as sovereign territory. Therefore, the Russian explorer Mikhail Lazarev was indeed the first human ever to see the frozen land in 1830 Today, the largest research base on Antarctica bears the name of his ship: The Vostok.
BRITAIN & FRANCE. Following World War I, both nations simultaneously made large claims of Antarctic land. Using the South Pole as the center, they carved up slices of pie based on longitude lines. These claims were coordinated with scientific missions as well. England's slice is called Queen Elizabeth's Land while France's territory is known as Adelie's Land.
GERMANY. Everyone knows the Third Reich was into World Domination...but didja know they conquered Antarctica? True story: In 1938, German planes dropped thousands of aluminum poles with plastic swastika flags over 96,500 square miles of land. Hitler called the new province 'New Schwabia." NOTE: These claims are defunct today.
AUSTRALIA. Shortly afterward, the jealous Aussies demanded a share of Antarctica as well. Enderby Land was made official a year later in 1933. Since Australia has the largest coastline facing Antarctica, it has the biggest chunk of land as well. NOTE: This is where every one's favorite Antarctic movie, March of the Penguins, was filmed.
CHILE. Conversely, if Australia has the longest southern-facing coastline, then poor, skinny Chile has the smallest. However, Chile happens to be the nation closest to Antarctica. This means quicker access to bases.
ARGENTINA. Naturally, the Argentine claim begins at the exact spot where the Chilean claim ends. It is interesting to note that both South American nations have their Antarctic wedges classified as official provinces, despite their lack of a permanent populations.