What is the closest continent to Antarctica?


Quick Answer

The closest continent to Antarctica is South America. Antarctica is the fifth largest and the most southerly among the seven traditionally accepted continents. In relation to the other continents, it comprises around 10 percent of the planet's land area.

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Full Answer

Traditional geographers divide Earth's land surface into distinct, massive land masses that are completely cut off from other lands. Known as continents, these large land bodies are classified into seven divisions: Asia, South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Antarctica.

Aside from this conventional model, modern experts in geography use other continental frameworks that merge two or three separate continents into a single region. Depending on what variables are considered, the world can be divided into seven, six, five or even four continents. However, Antarctica remains unaffected by these factors and remains as it is regardless of the model used.

Antarctica is entirely surrounded by the Southern Ocean, which forms the basin for the waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. The continent is situated 600 miles away from South America, which is its closest continental neighbor. Antarctica is separated from Africa by 2,500 miles and from Australia by 1,600 miles.

The Antarctic is divided into West Antarctica and East Antarctica. West Antarctica's rocky and icy terrain is said to be structurally linked to the Andes Mountains of South America. Argentina and Chile, two South American countries, have staked territorial claims in Antarctica. However, these declarations remain unrecognized by the United States and other nations.

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