There are no indigenous people on Antarctica. The population varies from fewer than 1,000 in winter to over 50,000 in summer: 5,000 scientists from 27 of the countries party to the Antarctic Treaty, plus tourists. Last season 2010/2011 there were 33,824 tourists, the peak was the 2007/2008 season with 46,000 visitors.
Antarctica surrounds the South Pole. The nearest landmass is South America, which is over 620 miles from the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Surface area: 14 million square miles (36 million square kilometers). There is no indigenous government, management of the Antarctic is organised through the legal framework of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. Forty-three nations are now party to this agreement, and seven of those - UK, Norway, Chile, France, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand - have historic claims on parts of the continent as national territory. The 1959 Antarctic Treaty preserves the status quo of the continent by neither recognizing nor rejecting the claims of these countries and by not allowing expansion in any way on the continent. Antarctica currently has no economic activity apart from offshore fishing and tourism, and these are run by other nations (i.e. not the continent of Antarctica)
The ships are ice strengthened and sail primarily to the Antarctic Peninsula region sometimes also including South Georgia and the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). There have been occasional voyages to Antarctica by larger passenger vessels (up to 960 tourists), some of which conduct sightseeing cruises only without landings. These will no longer happen however since regulations came into force in 2009 preventing such large vessels operating in Antarctic waters. Yacht travel is also popular, and gives a smaller scale more intimate contact, though often without the luxuries and facilities of the larger Antarctica cruise ship. Several expeditions take place outside the Peninsula region each season. Voyages are made to the Weddell Sea, Ross Sea region and, on occasion, East Antarctica including islands of the Indian Ocean sector. These expeditions include visits to emperor penguin colonies, historical huts, the Dry Valleys and other remote areas. Weather and ice, not clocks and calendars, set the schedule for a journey here. No matter what the reason for your visit, you'll be at the mercy of the continent's changing moods and weather patterns. You may be able to make a landing as expected at the appropriate time, but don't rely on it if the weather and sea state have other ideas.
Minimum about US$5,000 for a place in a twin cabin (triples may be available for 15-25% less) plus the cost of air fares and other sundry costs to and from your point of embarkation and then up to US$50 000 and even beyond. These are for regular scheduled trips. Of course you pay more if you want the best cabins on the more luxurious vessels. You could put together a trip of your own with other people with the help of a small vessel operator running your own itinerary, cost - negotiable, but not too different to the mid to high range scheduled trips. $8,000 -$12,000 per passenger for a 10-14 day cruise is a reasonable amount to expect to pay.
Antarctic visits are mainly concentrated at ice-free coastal zones over the Antarctic summer, the five-month period from November to March, in high summer there will be 20+ hours of daylight. The formation and movement of sea-ice outside of these times means that from March to November, Antarctica is left to the over-wintering scientific bases and their crews. Tourist ships possibly could get in and out earlier or later in the season, but there is the all too real danger of not being able to get to the places on the itinerary, or more importantly of being stuck in the sea-ice and having an enforced winter (for an extra 8 months or more) as has happened on scientific bases occasionally. So apart from the odd ice-breaker trip that may leave in October, tourist ships just don't risk it outside of these months. Winter pack ice extends over 620 miles around the continent, it is almost permanently dark and temperatures can drop to as low as -90°C (-130°F)
Sometimes you will see an aurora in antartica. There are no schools and Shopping malls in antartica.
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