Is Antarctica a country? | CNN Travel

(CNN) — As long as human beings have actually understood of its presence, they have actually wished to go to Antarctica.

It is the world’s least gone to, least inhabited continent. On the very best day, it is incredibly difficult to get to. And yet, the appeal of the unidentified and the desire to set foot on every continent have actually motivated tourists to attempt and make their method to the South Pole.

Still, for the compulsive catalogers of the world, Antarctica is challenging to categorize. It’s not a nation, so can you cross it off a pail list? Who manages it? If it had a capital city, where would it be? What would be the native language?

A nationwide flag for a nation-less location

These were amongst the concerns that Evan Townsend postured to himself when he registered for the very first of 2 stints operating at McMurdo Station, the US-run base in Antarctica.

Townsend, a grade school instructor in Boston, understood he had a rigorous luggage limitation when going to Antarctica to work as an assistance staffer — everybody is restricted to 85 pounds, he states, which needs to consist of clothing, toiletries, medication, electronic devices and anything else they may desire or require throughout their stay.

As one of his tasks would be handling the arts and crafts space on base, he wished to bring some designs with him, however understood he required to keep it light. Townsend selected the Pride flag — it weighed nearly absolutely nothing, however its significance was heavy.

One day, Townsend and a couple of associates took the Pride flag outdoors and snapped images of themselves to publish on social networks. The images wound up ending up being a worldwide story, with lots of news outlets stating the getaway was Antarctica’s first-ever Pride parade.

“That was when I realized the power of flags,” Townsend states. “On one hand, I’m completely isolated at the end of the Earth. And on the other hand, I’m part of this global community.”

True South flag

The “True South” flag Townsend developed to represent Antarctica

Courtesy Evan Townsend/True South

In Spite Of not having a background in style, Townsend determines as a longtime “flag nerd” and started to toy with the concept of developing a flag to represent Antarctica.

He went with dark blue for the Southern Ocean waters and white for the landscape, with an isosceles triangle in the center to represent Antarctica’s icy peaks.

“I wanted it to be a neutral flag, for sure,” Townsend states. “It’s a distinct design, it’s a distinct color, to make sure that it’s not affiliated with any particular group or nationality. I wanted it to be something that had a lot of symbolism, but that was simple enough that people could apply their own perception of Antarctic and their own understanding of the continent to the flag.”

Swedish nurse Johanna Davidsson didn’t set out for the South Pole going for a world record — however she left with one anyhow.

The name of the flag job, Real South, likewise has its own significance.

“‘True south’ literally means the direction toward the geographic south pole, as opposed to magnetic south which would lead to the magnetic south pole,” Townsend discusses. “it’s meant to represent the shared goals and values by which the Antarctic community can orient itself.”

And Townsend has no strategies to hallmark or copyright the flag’s style, as he thinks it ought to come from the entire world.

“The best flags are flags that get their meaning and their power from the people that fly them,” he includes.

Who supervises here, anyhow?

Townsend is simply among the lots of individuals around the world who are transfixed by Antarctica, even if they are never ever able to go to and see the location on their own.

So, what is it about the southernmost continent that continues to entryway individuals?

In a world that’s more interconnected than ever, Antarctica stays among the couple of locations that the majority of people do not understand anything about.

There is no native population in Antarctica, and human activity there is still reasonably current.

The only long-term setups are a handful of clinical stations, which just utilize researchers and their assistance personnel — a term making up anybody from chefs and upkeep employees to electrical contractors and airport supervisors.

It prevails for individuals to multitask. Townsend operated in food service, as a bartender and as a craft space supervisor throughout his period. At its peak, the variety of human Antarctic locals is around 10,000.

In 1959, 12 nations — consisting of Japan, South Africa, France, the UK, Argentina and what was then the USSR — signed the Antarctic Treaty in Washington, DC.

Amongst the products they settled on was that that Antarctica ought to “be used for peaceful purposes only” which science would be at the leading edge of any advancement or settlement there. Members of the armed force are enabled to be there, however just in assistance functions.

Although couple of individuals live there, Antarctica’s scope of impact is huge. Environment modification has actually triggered the continent to diminish. And in spite of the treaty’s presence, world politics have actually altered and brand-new power gamers — particularly China — have actually emerged in Antarctica.

Ceremonial South Pole

The Real South flag flies along with the flags of the initial 12 Antarctic Treaty Signatories at the ritualistic South Pole.

Courtesy Lisa Minelli/True South

Klaus Dodds, teacher of Geopolitics at the University of London, is the author of numerous books about the polar areas, most just recently “The Arctic: A Very Short Introduction,” released in June 2021.

“Stuff just keeps being taken from Antarctica. Information, ice, resources like seals and whales and fish,” he states. “Antarctica’s fragility, I think, represents the fragility of the wider world.”

While environment modification is the greatest impact on Antarctica, there’s another significant aspect that will just grow more substantial as the pandemic recedes — tourist.

The future of the seventh continent

About 90% of travelers to Antarctica visited boat. These journeys are costly, and many tourists invest just a few hours in fact on the land prior to returning on the ships and reversing.

Presently, the United States is the single biggest source of Antarctic tourist, however China is rapidly increasing into 2nd location, and Dodds thinks within in a years it will top the list.

Some locations, like Argentina resort town Ushuaia and Australia’s Hobart, earn money from these travelers due to their area as last pre-Antarctic ports of call. Dodds anticipates that the next years will see numerous cruise liner business open Antarctica schedules and more travel business purchase the continent’s facilities.

Simply as nations jockey for power with military bases and political maneuvers, Antarctica has actually ended up being another website for their competitions — and worries — to play out.

“Nobody can answer the question (of) who owns Antarctica,” Dodds states.

“I think the Antarctic represents, in essence, not just the idealism that the treaty represents, but it also represents the supreme contradictory nature of humanity more generally. So for all the things we wish to celebrate in Antarctica, there’s also the ugliness of humanity.”

He indicates a couple of significant successes: Antarctica was the very first continent to be totally without nuclear weapons. It is likewise demilitarized.

Another example of the continent’s capacity for appeal and unity? The Real South flag, which Dodds appreciates.

“(It) is a well-intentioned reminder that Antarctica is a marvel. Antarctica should represent the very best in all of us.”

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.