Political Status: Normally uninhabited territory, subject to overlapping claims of national sovereignty that remain in suspense under provisions of the Antarctic Treaty signed December 1, 1959.

Area: 4,826,000 sq. mi. (12,500,000 sq. km.).

Population: Various nations operating research stations under terms of the Antarctic Treaty maintain a transient population of about 3,000 (during the Antarctic summer); in addition, a limited number of treaty signatories (including the United States) maintain year-round stations populated by limited personnel.

Political Institution: In 2004 an Antarctic Treaty Secretariat was established in Buenos Aires, Argentina (see Posttreaty developments, below).

Executive Secretary: Johannes HUBER (Netherlands).

Political background. The most isolated and inhospitable of the world’s continents, Antarctica remained outside the mainstream of exploration and colonial exploitation until the early 20th century. British explorer Capt. James Cook first ...

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