06 November 2007


Antarctica is the fifth largest continent on earth.
It is always covered in ice.
Except penguins and perhaps seals, no other form of life exists.
Asking several of my students about whether the continent of Antarctica was inhabited, I had to infer from their answers that their knowledge was limited to the common general knowledge questions.
So,does any one live there?

A number of governments maintain permanent research stations throughout Antarctica. Many of the stations are staffed around the year. A total of 30 countries (as of October 2006), all signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, operate seasonal (summer) and year-round research stations on the continent and in its surrounding oceans. The population of persons doing and supporting science on the continent and its nearby islands varies from approximately 4,000 persons during the summer season to 1,000 persons during winter. In addition to these permanent stations, approximately 30 field camps are established each austral summer to support specific projects.

The largest of the research stations is the McMurdo station of the US. India has its presence in Antarctica as a permanent camp at Maitri Station which was established in 1989. Another Indian station called Dakshin Gangotri which functioned between 1984 and 1991 has been abandoned.

Life on an Antarctic station among several research scientists and support staff can be extremely varied and in recent years women number almost half that of men. They are also seen increasingly taking up important roles as base commander and leadership of scientific teams. There are various forms of entertainment and clubs to hang out with friends.

Related Articles: Antarctica Facts

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