What Is the South Pole’s Zip Code?

Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

The South Pole’s zip code is 96598, and its territory contains the southernmost post office in the world. It might seem strange that an uninhabitable continent would need mail delivery, but these packages are extra special: they contain food, supplies and letters for the team of scientists at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.

If you were to send a letter to the South Pole, it would take up to six weeks to be delivered. After making a pit stop in New Zealand, it would be packed onto a military cargo plane alongside other letters, supplies and gear on its way to the Amundsen-Scott station. The biggest challenge is the weather, which can drastically affect delivery times.

Temperatures range from as warm as 7 degrees to as cold as -117 degrees Fahrenheit, and snow or wind storms add to the hostile climate. Still, as a result of its cold temperatures and clear atmosphere, the South Pole is an ideal place to collect data on astronomy, astrophysics, seismology, glaciology and climate science. It’s also the only place in the world where, on land, the sun is up continuously for six months (summer) and down continuously for six months (winter).

The South Pole was virtually uninhabited until United States claimed it as territory in 1956. Shortly after, they built a research station that would undergo several iterations over the next half century. In 1975, it was upgraded to house 18 scientists and staff in the winter and 33 in the summer. After an even bigger upgrade in 1997, today it can hold 50 scientists and staff in the winter and 150 during the summer.

The station is named after Roald Amundsen and Robert F. Scott, who famously trekked to the South Pole in 1911 and 1912, laying the groundwork for the station’s adventurous spirit and scientific legacy.