Thursday, April 8, 2010


Antarctica is the least populated continent but it is the cause of some very interesting geopolitics. It's vast territory has the possibility of great untapped natural reasources.

As Antarctica was an unclaimed territory, several nations decided to claim portions of the continent. This is certainly not a new concept, to divide up a territory that was uncharted and unowned, but what is unusual about borders in Antarctica is the fact that they all follow lines of longitude and are completely straight. Seven countries claim wedges of Antarctica. These straight boundaries lead about 60 degrees south to the South Pole divide up the continent, in some cases even overlapping but also leaving large sections of the continent unclaimed - and unclaimable:

The Antarctic Treaty - claims that " Antarctica is to be used for peaceful purposes only; no military activities of any kind are permitted, though military personnel and equipment may be (and are) used for scientific purposes. Freedom of scientific investigation and cooperation shall continue. Scientific program plans, personnel, observations, and results shall be freely exchanged. No prior territorial claim is recognized, disputed, or established, and no new claims may be made while the treaty is in force. Nuclear explosions and disposal of radioactive waste are prohibited. All land and ice shelves south of latitude 60°S are covered, but not the high seas of the area. Observers from treaty States have free access to any area and may inspect all stations, installations, and equipment.(549)"
The treaty makes no mention of travelling restrictions or the prohibtion of travellors. Without travel restrictions, thousands have visited and have endangered Antarctica's ecosystem.

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