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Antarctica

Who owns Antarctica?

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September 01, 2015 3:01AM

Nobody owns the Antarctic continent, which is governed under The Antarctic Treaty. The Antarctic treaty was originally signed by twelve countries on 1 December 1959. It was enacted in June 1961, and since then has been signed by 49 countries. Of these signatory countries, only 28 are "Consultative parties", participating in the decision making process. The Treaty covers all territory on the Earth south of 60 degrees South Latitude. The purpose of the treaty was to ensure that Earth's remaining frontier would not be exploited for its resources, and would only ever be used for scientific and peaceful purposes.

There are seven countries that have territorial claims to Antarctica's continent, but none of them own it. Territory is officially claimed by Australia, New Zealand, France, Norway, Argentina, Chile and the United Kingdom. Brazil has made an unofficial claim, and Nazi Germany has an historic claim. Some of these claims overlap. The treaty ensures that no new claims can be made, and that no current activities can be used to assert, support or deny a claim.

Australia is among seven nations that have claimed territory in Antarctica. These claims are based on discovery and effective occupation of the claimed area, and are legal according to each nation's laws. Three countries - the United Kingdom, Chile and Argentina - have overlapping claims in the Antarctic.

Some countries explicitly recognise these claims; some have a policy of not recognising any claims in Antarctica, and others reserve the right to make a claim of their own.