What Are Some Facts About Antarctica?

antarctica Credit: Andreas Kambanis/CC-BY 2.0

One fact about Antarctica is that it is a continent permanently covered with ice and snow at the South Pole. It is considered a desert, and is also the driest, coldest and windiest place on the planet.

The coldest recorded temperature there was nearly minus 129 degrees Fahrenheit. The fastest daily average wind was 108 miles per hour at Port Martin between March 21 and 22, 1955.

Antarctica is 5.4 million square miles in area, which makes it one of the smaller continents.

Though Antarctica doesn't have any permanent human residents, it does receive about 4,000 visitors every year. No one country lays claim to all of Antarctica, though several countries, including the United Kingdom and Norway, have claims to certain areas.

Animals that live on and around Antarctica include penguins and seals, whales, krill, shorebirds and fish that can tolerate the cold. However, not even these animals stay in Antarctica year-round. Only invertebrates such as midges can be found year-round on Antarctica.

The few plants include species of lichen, moss and algae. Some of these plants even grow on the bones of dead animals.

Tens of millions of years ago, Antarctica was part of the super-continent Gondwana and enjoyed a temperate climate.