The Antarctic Mainland is the main "body" of Antarctica and is not the same as the Antarctic Islands. It includes three main regions: the Antarctic Peninsula, West Antarctica, and East Antarctica, along with the South Pole.
|Antarctic Peninsula |
Antarctica's principal destination, nearest to Tierra del Fuego, with the impressive topography of the Antarctic Andes, island hot springs, and the continent's densest concentration of research stations
|East Antarctica |
the Eastern Hemisphere's vast icy desert wasteland that makes up most of the continent is probably the least well known to tourists, but there are a few interesting destinations, including Mawson's Huts and the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility
|West Antarctica |
With the exception of the Antarctic Peninsula, West Antarctica is barren and empty, even of research stations (except for the Brunt Ice Shelf), but it does contain the continent's highest and lowest points, the former of which you can climb on a guided expedition
In the image to the right, the Ross Sea is shown in salmon color
- Esperanza Base is on the Peninsula.
- Vostok is the ultimate cold place in the world, associated with the world's coldest temperatures and high altitude.
- South Pole — of course, this area isn't part of eastern or western Antarctica. At the exact location of the South Pole is a pole, along with a research station near it.
The Antarctic Mainland is the main part of Antarctica and excludes the islands around the giant, almost completely ice-covered landmass. Much of the continent is at a high elevation due to the amount of ice below it; however, the land underneath the ice is for the most part at a much lower elevation.
Originally, it was the Antarctic Peninsula and the Antarctic Islands that were known to European explorers of Antarctica, but the race to the South Pole brought explorers deep into the Antarctic Mainland. This was a good thing for some, who made it to the South Pole, but not for some — the famous Scott's expedition succeeded in reaching the pole, but then died on the return journey.
While parts of the Antarctic Islands, Antarctic Peninsula, and the area around McMurdo Station could be considered just about habitable, the weather is so extreme on the Antarctic Plateau that living there, in any shape or form, is impossible. The exceptions are a few scattered research stations where a few people struggle through the winter each year.
- 1 Mount Kirkpatrick. Best climbed in April. The highest of Antarctica's mountains is terribly hard to reach, but is climbable on extremely expensive expeditions. 4528m.
- There are several Antarctic Islands off the coast of mainland Antarctica.