Do People Actually Live In Antarctica?
Tired of living in the same one horse town, seeing the same Old Town Road each day? What if there was an entire continent, nearly entirely uninhabited that you could scamper off to? That place exists, and you’ve probably heard of it. Antarctica. That’s right, the southernmost point on our globe that’s too cold even for Santa Claus (the North Pole region is simply called the Arctic.)
You may scoff, but people do technically live down there. The CIA World Factbook states that around 4,400 people call it home in the summer, and about a quarter of them — 1,100, to be precise — stick it out through winter. Obviously, there are no native Antarctic citizens, so these are pretty much all researchers and scientists.
So, if you want to spend any time in Antarctica, you’ve got two options. One is to devote a significant chunk of your life to science and then apply for a job through an organization like the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), which employs about 3,000 people annually, all of which either perform research or provide support to researchers.
That’s really your only chance to actually live there, but if you just want to see it, that’s when you go for option two: you could enlist the help of a service like Australia’s Antarctica Sightseeing Flights, which has secured approval from all Antarctic Treaty nations to operate flights over the continent.
You probably wouldn’t want to live in Antarctica anyways, as daily life can be a real drag. The USAP cites a mean annual temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit, which can drop to -58 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. This Atlantic article also relates a common occurrence — stranding due to weather, which can maroon you for days, weeks, or even months.
Isolation is also an issue, with many bases being confined to just a few people, day in and day out. Occasionally, this leads to trouble. Smithsonian says that, in 2018, a Russian researcher attacked a fellow researcher during an emotional breakdown at Bellinghausen Station on King George Island. He was charged with attempted murder after stabbing the victim, who survived.
The article says that property theft is rare, since there’s not much to take, but drinking is a problem, which often leads to clashes. So, while people do live in Antarctica, it’s not really suited for comfortable living, and its pristine environment is best left to the penguins.
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