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    Antarctica Geography - 1989

      Total area: about 14,000,000 km2
      land area: about 14,000,000 km2

      Comparative area: slightly less than 1.5 times the size of the US; second-smallest continent (after Australia)

      Land boundaries: see entry on @m1Disputes

      Coastline: 17,968 km

      Maritime claims: see entry on @m1Disputes

      Disputes: Antarctic Treaty suspends all claims; sections (some overlapping) claimed by Argentina, Australia, Chile, France (Adelie Land), New Zealand (Ross Dependency), Norway (Queen Maud Land), and UK; Brazil claims a Zone of Interest; the US and USSR do not recognize the territorial claims of other nations and have made no claims themselves (but reserve the right to do so); no formal claims have been made in the sector between 90o west and 150o west

      Climate: severe low temperatures vary with latitude, elevation, and distance from the ocean; East Antarctica colder than Antarctic Peninsula in the west; warmest temperatures occur in January along the coast and average slightly below freezing

      Terrain: about 98% thick continental ice sheet, with average elevations between 2,000 and 4,000 meters; mountain ranges up to 5,000 meters high; ice-free coastal areas include parts of southern Victoria Land, Wilkes Land, and the scientific research areas of Graham Land and Ross Island on McMurdo Sound; glaciers form ice shelves along about half of coastline

      Natural resources: coal and iron ore; chromium, copper, gold, nickel, platinum, and hydrocarbons have been found in small quantities along the coast; offshore deposits of oil and gas

      Land use: 0% arable land; 0% permanent crops; 0% meadows and pastures; 0% forest and woodland; 100% other (98% ice, 2% barren rock)

      Environment: mostly uninhabitable; katabatic (gravity) winds blow coastward from the high interior; frequent blizzards form near the foot of the plateau; cyclonic storms form over the ocean and move clockwise around the coast; during summer more solar radiation reaches the surface at the South Pole than is received at the Equator in an equivalent period; in October 1987 it was reported that the ozone shield, which protects the Earth's surface from harmful ultraviolet radiation, has dwindled to its lowest level ever over Antarctica; subject to active volcanism (Deception Island)

      Note: the coldest continent

      NOTE: The information regarding Antarctica on this page is re-published from the 1989 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Antarctica Geography 1989 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Antarctica Geography 1989 should be addressed to the CIA.

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    Revised 15-Apr-03
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