Antarctica is the coldest, iciest, snowiest, highest and driest continent on earth – a land of superlatives and extremes. It’s full of topographical secrets, including hidden lakes, red water, volcanos and one of the longest mountain ranges on earth. The continent’s ice-capped land and snowy mountains, not to mention 12 million penguins, make an amazing black and white landscape … until the sun sets, revealing multiple watercolors. When people are allowed to visit (December-February), there’s a midnight sun that challenges weary travelers after traversing Drake’s Passage or similar with mountainous waves to get there.

This continent is not a country as it does not have a native population or government, rather a “condominium” arrangement with many countries per the Antarctic Treaty. There are no territories so tour operators can go anywhere in a spirit of true exploration. And therein lies the beauty: visiting Antarctica is true exploration. Plus, it has the purest air you’ll ever breathe and possibly the only square foot no one has stepped on before you. There is only one mailbox on the entire continent; Antarctica is as remote as the planet gets.

The continent includes all ice shelves, archipelagos and islands south of 60° South Latitude: Balleny Islands, Peter I Island, Scott Island, South Orkney Islands and South Shetland Islands. Nearby are the British-owned Falkland Islands and South Georgia, which are sea life sanctuaries.

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Antarctica sunset

‘Condominum’ Continent is Model of International Diplomacy

Imagine a place on earth where there has never been war; where countries around the globe cooperate and collaborate; where politics, rulers and militaries have no place; where nuclear activity and waste is prohibited; where nations are united by a common goal; where they have an open door policy without territorial claims, where peace and science reign … amazingly, it exists.

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Antarctica model of international diplomacy

Unshackled Footsteps of Shackleton in Antarctic Circle

The most famous explorer of all when it comes to Antarctica was Sir Ernest Shackleton. This Irish-Brit, who went on four Antarctic expeditions, was the first to go the furthest south and climb the active volcano Mount Erebus. His third voyage resulted in a shipwreck and a runaway boat that the crews largely and miraculously survived. This Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-17) is one of the greatest maritime survival stories in history and made Shackleton’s leadership legendary.

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Denmark is about 50 times smaller than Greenland with only 2 percent of its land space (43,000 vs. 2 million km2). However, Greenland has 1 percent of Denmark’s population (58,000 vs. 5.9 million).