Antarctica is a continent encompassing the southern extremity of
Earth, and containing the Earth's South Pole. It is surrounded by the
Southern Ocean and divided in two by the Transantarctic Mountains. It
is considered to be the coldest, driest, windiest, and highest (on
average) continent on Earth, and 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice.
There are no permanent human residents and only cold-adapted plants
and animals survive there, including penguins, fur seals, lichens, and
hundreds of types of algae. The first commonly accepted sighting of
the continent occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Mikhail
Lazarev and Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen. Antarctica is not
under the political sovereignty of any nation, although seven
countries (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Norway, New Zealand
and the United Kingdom) maintain territorial claims. Most other
countries do not recognize these claims, and the claims of Argentina,
Chile and the United Kingdom all overlap. Human activity on the
continent is regulated by the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed in
1959 by 12 countries and prohibits any military activity, supports
scientific research, and protects the continent's ecozone. Ongoing
experiments are conducted by more than 4000 scientists of many
different nationalities and research interests.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
Septimius Severus was proclaimed Roman Emperor.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union forces.
Operation Weserübung: Germany invaded Denmark and Norway; Occupation
of Denmark began.
NASA announced the selection of the Mercury program astronauts.
April 9 tragedy: An anti-Soviet demonstration in Tbilisi, Georgia was
cracked down by the Soviet army, resulting in 20 deaths and thousands
Wikiquote of the day:
"I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, and I know
there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human
beings — and I hate people like that!" -- Tom Lehrer