Antarctica Adventure - 2002

A plane can come from Punta Arenas, Chile, to the Chilean Antarctic Base on King George Island for the evacuation. We were relieved for our fellow passenger when we learned he had purchased the Med-Evac insurance for this trip since it will cost more than $100,000 to get him back to civilization.

K ING G EORGE I SLAND AND P ENGUIN I SLAND Day 10 This large island in the South Shetlands chain has been utilized since Antarctic explorations began in the late 19th century. Right now it is home base to five country’s research stations: Chile, Russia, China, Uruguay, Argentina. Chile’s Frei-Marsh Base is the site of the airstrip which all countries in the Antarctic Treaty can use. Under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, all countries have renounced the right to make territorial claims on the continent or in the Antarctic region. However, most countries have probably just put their claims in abeyance while the treaty is in effect (it was recently extended for another 50 years, taking it to 2049) and in the meantime try to make sure they have presence so that when the day comes that claims can be made they have a good basis for theirs. Tomake a valid claim to land, countries must demonstrate two things: presence and activity. For that reason, the joke is that the Brits build post offices, the Argentineans put out navigation aids like buoys and beacons, and the Chileans have babies in their territory. That also explains why so many of the original 17 signatories make sure they have at least one base in the Antarctic even when they cannot really afford it or when they cannot really fund any science. The only two nations to have made no territorial claims are the USA and Russia, but, of course, they both have big bases (the USA has two—McMurdo and Scott-Amundsen South Pole Base.

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