The seventh continent in the world, the base of the globe, the windiest, coldest and driest continent on earth – Antarctica certainly lives up to its nickname, 'The Ice'.
Most of Antarctica fits within the Antarctic Circle – a line of latitude sitting at around 66.5° south of the equator. All places inside of this circle experience periods of 24-hour daylight during the summer solstice, and 24 hours of night during the winter solstice. Antarctica's ice sheet is one of the two polar ice caps of the earth and covers 98% of Antarctica, including the South Pole.
Moving further out, the continent of Antarctica makes up most of the region of Antarctica. The region encompasses Antarctica, anything falling inside the Antarctic Circle and a lot of the stuff inside the wider Antarctic Convergence – a seasonally changing line of latitude which marks where the icy Antarctic waters meet the milder waters of the sub-Antarctic. This convergence line is considered the outer limits of what is known as 'the Antarctic'.
Wait, so what's the difference between Antarctica and the Antarctic?
Antarctica is the continent – the land mass almost entirely covered in ice. The Antarctic is the region – the south polar zones including the seas and some outlying islands.
If this is still all a bit confusing, don't worry – it is tricky to understand. Picture this: if you're looking at one of those spinning model globes of the Earth, use a pencil to point to the bottom of the globe and you'll be pointing at Antarctica. Then, move the pencil north just a bit and spin the globe until you've drawn a (not so perfect) circular line around the land mass of Antarctica. That there, inside the circle, is the rough area of the Antarctic region.
Our tours in Antarctica