Responding to a question about the world’s largest desert, the majority of people mentions the Sahara, which is wrong. The correct answer is Antarctica, the fifth-largest continent on the planet, with an area of over 14 million square kilometers. At the same time, it is the least studied and the most mysterious of all the seven continents. For many years, scientists have wondered what is hidden under the ices of Antarctica and explored the flora and fauna of the continent. In our review, we are giving 20 little known facts about the southernmost and coldest desert on Earth.
1. Wisdom teeth and the appendix
The people, who have not removed their wisdom teeth and appendix, are not allowed to travel not Antarctica. This is due to the fact that the stations in Antarctica do not carry out surgeries, so before you go to the icy continent you need to remove wisdom teeth and your appendix, even if they are completely healthy.
2. The McMurdo Dry Valleys
Antarctica is the driest place in the world. To be precise, it has the driest place on the planet, the McMurdo Dry Valleys.
3. Top level domain
Like many other countries (Australia, .au, Germany, .de), Antarctica has its own top-level domain – .aq
4. Palm trees in Antarctica
53 million years ago, Antarctica was so warm that palms grew along its shores. The temperature on the continent rose above 20 degrees Celsius.
5. Metallica in Antarctica
In 2013, Metallica played a concert in Antarctica called Freeze ‘Em All, thus becoming the first band that has performed on all continents. What is also remarkable, the band visited all seven continents during one year.
6. Its own nuclear power plant
Antarctica has its own nuclear power plant. It worked at the US McMurdo station (the largest on the continent) from 1960 to 1972.
7. Fire department
Antarctica has a fire department. It is located at McMurdo Station and employs professional firefighters.
8. 1150 species of fungi
In spite of the extremely low temperatures, there are 1150 different species of fungi in Antarctica. They are well adapted to low temperatures, as well as the continuous cycles of freezing and thawing.
9. The planet’s time zones
Antarctica actually has all the time zones of the planet. This is due to the fact that the boundaries of the time zones converge at one point on both poles.
10. Polar bears
Antarctica has no polar bears. They can be seen in the Arctic and Canada.
11. The southernmost bar in the world
There is even a bar in Antarctica – the southernmost bar in the world. It is located at the Akademik Vernadsky Research Station, belonging to Ukraine.
12. Minus 89.2 degrees Celsius
The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was minus 128.56 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 89.2 degrees Celsius). It was registered on July 21, 1983, at the Russian Vostok Station in Antarctica.
13. The fifth largest continent
Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent. Its area is 14 million square kilometers.
14. 99% of Antarctica is covered with ice
99% of Antarctica is covered with ice. The glacier that covers the continent is often referred to as the ice sheet.
15. 70% of the Earth’s fresh water
The average thickness of the Antarctic ice is about 1.6 kilometers. Therefore, Antarctica keeps about 70% of all fresh water on Earth.
16. The Transantarctic Mountains
The Transantarctic Mountains divide the continent into eastern and western parts. This is one of the longest mountain ranges in the world (3,500 km).
17. Antarctica was discovered in 1820
The existence of Antarctica had been completely unknown, until the continent was seen in 1820 for the first time. Earlier, people had thought it was just a group of islands.
18. Roald Amundsen
On December 14, 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach the South Pole and set his country’s flag there.
19. The Antarctic Treaty
After secret negotiations, twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959 and agreed to dedicate the continent exclusively to peaceful research activities. Today, the agreement is signed by 48 countries.
20. Emilio Marcos Palma
In January 1979, Emilio Marcos Palma was the first child born on the Southern continent. It was a planned action of Argentina, which claimed to possess a part of Antarctica and sent a pregnant woman there on purpose.