Antarctica, located at the South Pole, is the fifth largest continent based on size, with no countries. The actual square miles changes from summer to winter due to ice formation. In the summer time its size is about half of America and in the winter it doubles. Known as the “white continent,” it is 98% covered by ice, which holds 70% of the world’s fresh water. It is the coldest, driest and windiest place on Earth, which is probably why there is a population of 0, though visitors, mostly scientists, number in the 4-5,000 range during the summer. Scientists from different countries have setup 60 research stations. It was at one of those stations that the highest recorded temperature, of 7 degrees F was recorded, as well as the lowest temperature, at -128 degrees F. This is so cold that if a person were to drop a steel bar, it would shatter.
The continent is surrounded by the Southern Ocean, providing just as much water as ice here. It is in these waters and along the coastline that you’ll find animals such as penguins, 6 different species of seals, 9 types of whales, albatross and other birds. They don’t venture too far inland due to the temperatures and rough winds.
No one owns any of Antarctica. A treaty, called the Antarctica Treaty, was made between 45 countries that allows anyone to use the continent, as long as it’s peaceful, like for research. It is here that is said to be the best place to study meteorites that fall to Earth because they’re clearly visible on the white ice and they don’t become covered by vegetation.