So who own's Antartica?

and the north pole…and the moon? My son insists the ancient right of ownership goes to the discoverer. I, being more even keeled, insist on international treaties, which supplant the age-old test of, say, war. But what treaties?

“Valenton del mundo!”

It seems that Cecil once did a column on creating your own country… one of the criteria was that you had to defend it against all comers. Using this logic, I will state that the regions you mentioned are unowned, and will probably stay that way due to lack of valuable resources.

– Karl Butcher
Y2K compliant since 1836

According to my Geographic dictionary, several countries claim ownership to different sections of Antarctica. It also said the the US does not recognize these claims. So I guess it is still up for official grabs.

By international treaty, the moon belongs to all the nations of the earth.

Who own’s anything? To the victor’s goe’s the spoil’s.

The apostrophe at it is best…

The North Pole part of the question is easy. It’s in international waters. Granted, you can walk around on it, but since there is no dirt under the ice, legally speaking it is ocean, just like the middle of the Pacific or something.

A lot of the Antarctic is claimed by Norway, on the basis that it was Norwegians that walked around on it first, and a lot is claimed by Argentina, on the basis that Argentina is close to the Antarctic (well, not that close, but a lot closer than Norway fer crying out loud!)

Who want’s it?

Isn’t there plans to make it an international world heritage site, making it property of everyone? It seems to me that right now there are 7 countries that have manned scientific stations on Antartica.

There is a treaty to say that Antarctica is not allowed to be mined of its resources, it is the last bastion for total freedom from industry. The only thing you’ll find there is native wildlife and scientific research stations.

I think that’s partly because of an enlightened age when the subject came up, and partly to see if any geological and biological developments can be safely observed without any undue human influence.

New Zealand, Australia, US, France, Norway, Britain… and somewhere else, supervise various sections of the land. (It’s the largest continent, I believe)

GuanoLad writes:
“(It’s the largest continent, I believe)”

I believe that honor goes to Asia.


I can think of no more stirring symbol of man’s humanity to man than a fire engine - Kurt Vonnegut

The following countries have laid claims to portions of Antarctica. (Several of the claims overlap.)
Great Britain
New Zealand

(The claims are not uniform, some claims are for jurisdiction and other claims are for land.)

Under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, all claims are held in abeyance in the interest of international co-operation for scientific purposes.


Yeah, I would’ve thought so too, but I heard differently. So now I’m not so certain. Asia doesn’t include Europe, or the Middle East, so that reduces the continent’s acreage somewhat. Though it will be the world’s largets continuous landmass.

GuanoLad: put down the mercator projection map and check a globe. Now tell us which looks like the largest continent.

Argentina’s offical government maps include thier “Claimed” section of Antartica in them. Argentina also has a strong claim as they were the first nation to have someone born on Antarctic soil (such as it is).

The key to gaining status on claims in addition to being able to defend a territory is the ability to populate it or control native population.

The interesting question lies in when someone figures out a way to (at a good profit) tap into Antarctica’s rich resources. Let’s face it if an oil field the size of those in Saudi Arabia were found tomorrow, how long would the current situation last?

GuanoLad (in response to the assertion that Asia is larger that Antarctica:

(You haven’t been talking to a guy named Alan over on the a.f.c-a newsgroup, have you?)

If continent = area of cultural association, then I suppose someone might remove the Middle East from Asia. If continent = huge landmass, then I don’t see any way to remove the Middle East from Asia. Using cultural association, I think that we’d wind up with between 12 and 20 “continents” and I’m not sure that the word would continue to have meaning–we already have “region.” Using landmass, I would like to start teaching kids “Eurasia” and stop pretending that a mountain range (that does not even extend the whole length of the “border”) somehow defines a continent, but I doubt I will win that battle.

At any rate, Antarctica, with an area of 5.4 million square miles is already smaller than South America at 6.9, which is smaller than North America at 9.4, which is smaller than Africa at 11.7. We can chop Asia and Europe into little tiny pieces and Antarctica still won’t be the largest.
(Asia without Europe is 17.4, while Saudi Arabia (.87), Iran (.63), Iraq (.17), Turkey (.30), Syria (.07), and Afghanistan (.25) combined will not reduce Asia below the size of Africa and I doubt that the rest of the -istan countries will shrink it enough, either.)


I may be mistaken, but I seem to remember that there are two roughly ovoid landmasses under all that ice, and that they have done drilling down through the ice into said landmasses. Am I wrong?


We are the children of the Eighties. We are not the first “lost generation” nor today’s lost generation; in fact, we think we know just where we stand - or are discovering it as we speak.

Homer, the quote you used "no dirt under ice ", was referring to the North pole not the south and Antartica. Go to National Geographic and search the site for Antartica, in the past couple of years they have had several stories and photo essays. They sponsored several climbers trip during Christmas to do several first ascents of mountains and rock faces in Antartica. Some areas have so much wind that there is plenty of rock to climb.

Re the Asia vs. Antarctica

From EB:

BTW, the Middle East is definitely considered a part of Asia.

Okay okay. I am completely and obviously wrong about Antarctica being the largest continent.

Like I said, though, I’d heard differently. I distinctly remember reading in a book somewhere (I can’t recall if it was an authoritative book or not) that Antarctica was in fact the largest something in the world.

Maybe it’s the largest free-floating continent. (I don’t mean literally floating, either, I mean unattached to any other landmass)

And if Continents were just land masses, then Europe would have to be a part of Asia, which it isn’t.