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South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: 
"Leo Terram Propriam Protegat" (Latin)
"Let [or May] the Lion protect his own land"
Anthem: God Save the Queen
Location of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean.
Capital King Edward Point
Official languages English (de facto)
Demonym South Georgian
South Sandwich Islander
Sovereign state  United Kingdom
Government British overseas territory
 -  Monarch Elizabeth II
 -  Commissioner Colin Roberts
 -  Responsible Ministera (UK) Mark Simmonds MP
Area
 -  Total 3,903 km2
1,507 sq mi
Population
 -  2006 estimate 30
 -  Density 0.005/km2 (n/a)
0.013/sq mi
Currency Pound sterling (GBP)
Time zone GST (UTC−2)
Drives on the Right- and left-hand traffic
Calling code +500
ISO 3166 code GS
Internet TLD .gs
a. For the Overseas Territories.

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) is a

  • South Georgia Association website
  • South Georgia Heritage Trust
  • Live picture from the South Georgia webcam
  • Operation Paraquat
  • Argentine invasion of South Georgia
  • South Georgia Wiki
  • Constitution of South Georgia
Others
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands entry at The World Factbook
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands at DMOZ
  • Map of the Argentine claim over Islas Georgias del Sur y Sandwich del Sur
General information
  • South Georgia government website♠
Government

External links

  • Forster, George. A Voyage Round the World in His Britannic Majesty's Sloop Resolution Commanded by Capt. James Cook, during the Years 1772, 3, 4 and 5 (2 vols.), London, 1777.
  • Headland, R. K. The Island of South Georgia, Cambridge University Press, 1984. ISBN 0-521-25274-1

References

  1. ^ a b Google Maps
  2. ^ South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, CIA World Factbook, 2002.
  3. ^ Historia de las Relaciones Exteriores de la Argentina
  4. ^ La Infanteria de Marina en el conflicto del Atlántico Sur, Jorge Alberto Erecaborde. The original quote in Spanish is: La Compañia Argentina de Pesca SA, al amparo de las leyes argentinas y bajo su bandera, se instala en Grytviken".
  5. ^ Historia General de las Relaciones Exteriores de la República Argentina
  6. ^ "On the Minds of the Whales" by Tim Flannery, NYRB, 9 February 2012
  7. ^ The Island of South Georgia, The Whaling Museum, Sandefjord, Norway
  8. ^ Whaling, South Georgia Heritage Trust
  9. ^ Headland, R. K. The Island of South Georgia, Cambridge University Press, 1984. p. 238.
  10. ^ Mills, William James. Exploring polar frontiers: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 2, p. 157, 2003.
  11. ^ 2008 February 10: Magnitude 6.5 - South Sandwich Islands region: USGS
  12. ^ Earthquake Hazards Program at U.S. Geological Survey
  13. ^ Summary of earthquake 2013-07-15 14:03:43 UTC at U.S. Geological Survey
  14. ^ "British Antarctic Survey". British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  15. ^ Extreme Temperatures Around the World
  16. ^ South Georgia official website – environment – ocean
  17. ^ General Survey of Climatology V12, 2001, Edited by Landsberg, Elsevier publishing
  18. ^ "Climate Normals". Climatic Research Unit, UEA. July 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  19. ^ "Temp/Rain 1901-1950". Globalbioclimatics. Apr 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  20. ^ "Sunshine 1931-1960 [page 242]". DMI.DK. Apr 2012. Archived from the original on April 27, 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  21. ^ Quark Fishing Ltd, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2005] UKHL 57 (13 October 2005)
  22. ^ Commonwealth Secretariat website
  23. ^  
  24. ^ "South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands". Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford. 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  25. ^ South Georgia Heritage Trust – Native flora
  26. ^ "South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands". BirdLife International. 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  27. ^ "Eradication of Rodents". South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. Retrieved 2012. 
  28. ^ Hastings, Chris (7 March 2010). "South Georgia to poison millions of rats". Times Online (London). 
  29. ^ Connor, Steve (8 March 2010). "Ecologists turn exterminators in the great rat hunt".  
  30. ^ Amos, Jonathan (4 May 2011). Success' in South Georgia rat eradication"'". BBC. 
  31. ^ Hogenboom, Melissa (4 July 2013). "South Georgia rat removal hits milestone". BBC News. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  32. ^ Cookson, Clive (July 3, 2013). "Rats removed from South Georgia in biggest mass poisoning".  
  33. ^ "Climate Change - Overview". British Antarctic Survey. Retrieved 2012. 
  34. ^ Sarsfield, Kate (3 December 2014), "Habitat Restoration Project gears up for final phase of airborne rodent eradication programme",  
  35. ^ Management of introduced reindeer on South Georgia, Office of the Commissioner, 19 February 2011.
  36. ^ Doyle, Alister (March 18, 2013). "Hunters slay 3,500 reindeer on island near Antarctica". Reuters. 
  37. ^ "Which has more biodiversity, the Galapagos or the sub-Antarctic island South Georgia? Surprise, surprise". George Wright Society. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  38. ^ Merco Press (27 May 2011). "South Georgia marine biodiversity richer than the Galapagos Islands". 
  39. ^ The Antarctic island that's richer in biodiversity than the Galapagos
  40. ^ Marine Protected Areas Order 2012, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands Gazette, 29 February 2012.
  41. ^ SGSSI Marine Protection Area (Management Plan).
  42. ^ Good Planet: Denmark. Largest protected area in the world.
  43. ^ Powell, Michael. HMS Protector will be Endurance replacement, The News. Portsmouth, 11 January 2011.
  44. ^ "UK purchases Arctic patrol vessel HMS Protector". IHS Jane's 360. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2014. 
  45. ^ "HMS Endurance: Former ice patrol ship to be scrapped".  

Notes

See also

BSES Expeditions. While the final decision on the fate of Endurance was pending, the Royal Navy chartered a Norwegian icebreaker, renamed HMS Protector, to act as replacement for three years.[43] In September 2013 the British Ministry of Defence purchased the ship outright.[44] It was announced on 7 October 2013 that Endurance will be sold for scrap.[45]

A Royal Navy destroyer or frigate and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel carry out the Atlantic Patrol Task (South) mission in the surrounding area.

The main British military facility in the region is at C-130 Hercules and Vickers VC10 aircraft also occasionally patrol the territory.

After the British Antarctic Survey.

The Royal Navy ice-patrol ship HMS Endurance docked at Portsmouth

Military

Wandering albatross at South Georgia Island
Antarctic Pearlwort at St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia
South Georgia glacier and penguin colony

[42][41][40] The seas around South Georgia have a high level of

Marine ecosystem

[36] The eradication began in 2013 with 3,500 Reindeer killed, and nearly all the rest were killed in early 2014. Eight stragglers have been seen since and will be dealt with in 2014/15 summer.[35]

Seals frequent the islands, and whales may be seen in the surrounding waters. There are no native land mammals, though reindeer, brown rats and mice have been introduced through the activities of man. The rats, being brought to the island as stowaways on sealing and whaling ships in the late 18th century,[27] have destroyed tens of millions of ground-nesting birds’ eggs and chicks, and scientists plan to eradicate them over four years starting 2011. It will be by far the largest rodent eradication attempt in the world to date.[28][29][30] The project is being led by zoologist Anthony Martin of The University of Dundee who states, "This is a man induced problem and it's about time that man put right earlier errors."[31] In July 2013, the success of the main phase of the extermination of the rats, which took place in May that year, was announced. 180 tonnes of rat poison, brodifacoum, has been dropped over 70% of the island, in what was the world's largest ever operation of this kind.[32] The island is currently separated by glaciers, but as the climate warms the island's natural glaciers are slowly melting.[33] As this continues, there will no longer be a natural barrier preventing the rats from spreading. 100% eradication is hoped to be achieved by 2015. Another 95t of rat poison will be dropped by three helicopters in the January summer 2015.[34]

Mammals

South Georgia supports many sea birds, including Important Bird Areas (IBA) by BirdLife International.[26]

Birds

The parts of the islands that are not permanently covered in snow or ice are part of the grasses, a few other small flowering plants, mosses, lichens and ferns. A number of introduced species have become naturalised; many of these were introduced by whalers in cattle fodder, and some are considered invasive.[24] There are no trees or shrubs.[25]

Plants

Southern giant petrel on South Georgia Island
A colony of 200,000 Salisbury Plain
King penguins at St Andrews Bay, South Georgia Island, 1996

Flora and fauna

The pound sterling is the official currency of the islands, and the same notes and coins are used as in the United Kingdom. For more information on British currency in the wider region, see Pound sterling in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic.

Currency

There are only four genuine Falklands War by a member of staff of the British Antarctic Survey in the few moments the Argentinians allowed them to gather their belongings. Everything else was burnt, but these four sets were saved and brought to the UK by Robert Headland, BAS.

A reasonable issue policy (few sets of stamps are issued each year) along with attractive subject matter (especially whales) makes them popular with topical stamp collectors.

A large source of income from abroad also comes from the issue of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands postage stamps which are produced in the UK.

Postage stamps

The island has featured in the Warren Miller video Storm.

Charter yacht visits usually begin in the Falkland Islands, last between four and six weeks, and enable guests to visit remote harbours of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Sailing vessels are now required to anchor out and can no longer tie up to the old whaling piers on shore. One exception to this is the recently upgraded/repaired yacht berth at Grytviken. All other jetties at former whaling stations lie inside a 200 m (656 ft) exclusion zone; and berthing, or putting ropes ashore, at these is forbidden. Yachts visiting South Georgia are normally expected to report to the Government Officer at King Edward Point before moving round the island.

Tourism has become a larger source of income in recent years, with many cruise ships and sailing yachts visiting the area (the only way to visit South Georgia is by sea; there are no airstrips on the Islands). The territory gains income from landing charges and the sale of souvenirs. Cruise ships often combine a Grytviken visit with a trip to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Tourism

[23] In 2001 the South Georgia government was cited by the

Fishing takes place around South Georgia and in adjacent waters in some months of the year, with fishing licences sold by the territory for Patagonian toothfish, cod icefish and krill. Fishing licences bring in millions of pounds a year, most of which is spent on fishery protection and research. All fisheries are regulated and managed in accordance with the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) system.

Fishing

As there are no native inhabitants, economic activity in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is limited. The territory has revenues of £4.5 million, 80% of which is derived from fishing licences (2011 figures).[22] Other sources of revenue are the sale of postage stamps and coins, tourism and customs and harbour dues.

This postage stamp depicting a fin whale was issued in 1963.

Economy

The constitution of the territory (adopted 3 October 1985), the manner in which its government is directed and the availability of judicial review were discussed in a series of litigations between 2001 and 2005 (see, in particular, Regina v. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Appellant) ex parte Quark Fishing Limited [2005] UKHL 57.[21]). Although its government is entirely directed by the UK Foreign Office, it was held that its decisions under that direction could not be challenged as if they were in law decisions of a UK government department; thus the European Convention on Human Rights did not apply.

As there are no permanent inhabitants on the islands, there is no legislative council and no elections are held. The UK Foreign Office manages the foreign relations of the territory. Since 1982 the territory celebrates Liberation Day on 14 June.

Executive power is vested in the Commissioner, a post held by the Governor of the Falkland Islands. The current Commissioner is Colin Roberts, who became Commissioner on 29 April 2014. A Chief Executive Officer (Martin Collins) deals with policy matters and is Director of SGSSI Fisheries, responsible for the allocation of fishing licences. An Executive Officer (Richard McKee) deals with administrative matters relating to the territory. There is also an Environmental Officer (Jennifer Lee) and a Marine & Fisheries Officer (Katherine Ross). The Financial Secretary and Attorney General of the territory are appointed ex officio similar appointments in the Falkland Islands' Government.

Government

Climate data for Grytviken/King Edward Point, South Georgia, 1901–1950 (Sunshine 1931–1960)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 24.5
(76.1)
26.5
(79.7)
28.8
(83.8)
19.1
(66.4)
17.5
(63.5)
14.0
(57.2)
13.6
(56.5)
13.2
(55.8)
17.0
(62.6)
20.0
(68)
22.5
(72.5)
21.5
(70.7)
28.8
(83.8)
Average high °C (°F) 8.4
(47.1)
9.1
(48.4)
8.4
(47.1)
5.6
(42.1)
2.9
(37.2)
0.9
(33.6)
1.2
(34.2)
1.5
(34.7)
3.5
(38.3)
5.4
(41.7)
6.5
(43.7)
7.5
(45.5)
5.08
(41.13)
Average low °C (°F) 1.4
(34.5)
1.7
(35.1)
1.0
(33.8)
−0.8
(30.6)
−3.1
(26.4)
−4.6
(23.7)
−4.7
(23.5)
−4.9
(23.2)
−3.3
(26.1)
−1.8
(28.8)
−0.5
(31.1)
0.4
(32.7)
−1.6
(29.13)
Record low °C (°F) −4.1
(24.6)
−3.7
(25.3)
−6.3
(20.7)
−9.8
(14.4)
−11.4
(11.5)
−14.6
(5.7)
−15.2
(4.6)
−19.2
(−2.6)
−18.4
(−1.1)
−11
(12)
−6.4
(20.5)
−5.4
(22.3)
−19.2
(−2.6)
Precipitation mm (inches) 92.0
(3.622)
114.0
(4.488)
136.0
(5.354)
139.0
(5.472)
137.0
(5.394)
135.0
(5.315)
149.0
(5.866)
149.0
(5.866)
92.0
(3.622)
80.0
(3.15)
93.0
(3.661)
88.0
(3.465)
1,394
(54.882)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 152 160 127 66 34 12 22 74 123 171 174 167 1,282
Source #1: Globalbioclimatics/S.Rivas-Martínez[19]
Source #2: DMI/Danish Meteorology Institute[20]
Climate data for Bird Island, South Georgia, 1961–1990
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.5
(41.9)
5.6
(42.1)
4.4
(39.9)
1.9
(35.4)
−0.5
(31.1)
−1.8
(28.8)
−2.4
(27.7)
−1.9
(28.6)
−0.2
(31.6)
1.6
(34.9)
3.4
(38.1)
4.5
(40.1)
1.67
(35.02)
Average low °C (°F) 0.7
(33.3)
1.4
(34.5)
0.6
(33.1)
−1
(30)
−3.8
(25.2)
−4.6
(23.7)
−5.4
(22.3)
−4.8
(23.4)
−3.4
(25.9)
−1.9
(28.6)
−1.5
(29.3)
−0.6
(30.9)
−2.02
(28.35)
Precipitation mm (inches) 84
(3.31)
80
(3.15)
95
(3.74)
123
(4.84)
108
(4.25)
108
(4.25)
120
(4.72)
114
(4.49)
107
(4.21)
98
(3.86)
88
(3.46)
77
(3.03)
1,204
(47.4)
Source: Climatic Research Unit, UEA[18]

The South Sandwich Islands are much colder than South Georgia, being farther south and more exposed to cold outbreaks from the Antarctic continent. They are also surrounded by sea ice from the middle of May to late November (even longer at their southern end).[17] Recorded temperature extremes at South Thule Island have ranged from −29.8 °C (−21.6 °F) to 17.7 °C (63.9 °F).

The seas surrounding South Georgia are cold throughout the year due to the proximity of the Antarctic Current. They usually remain free of pack ice in winter, though thin ice may form in sheltered bays, and icebergs are common.[16] Sea temperatures drop to 0 °C (32 °F) in late August and rise to around 4 °C (39.2 °F) only in early April.

Mountain winds blow straight up the western side and straight down the eastern side of the mountains and become much warmer and drier; this produces the most pleasant conditions when temperatures can occasionally rise over 20 °C (68 °F) on summer days. The highest recorded temperature was 28.8 °C (83.8 °F) at Grytviken.[15] and 26.3 °C (79.3 °F) at nearby King Edward point, both on the sheltered East side of the Islands. Conversely, the highest recorded temperature at Bird Island on the windward Western side is a mere 14.5 °C (58.1 °F). As one might expect, the sheltered eastern side can also record lower winter temperatures—the absolute minimum for Grytviken being −19.4 °C (−2.9 °F), King Edward Point −18.9 °C (−2.0 °F), but Bird Island just −11.4 °C (11.5 °F).

Sunshine, as with many South Atlantic Islands, is low, at a maximum of just 21.5%. This amounts to around 1,000 hours of sunshine annually. The local topography, however, also contributes significantly to the low insolation. A study published during the early 1960s[14] indicated that sunshine recording instruments remained significantly obscured throughout the year and entirely obscured during June. It was estimated that the theoretical sunshine exposure minus obstructions would be around 14% at Bird Island and 35% at King Edward Point – or, in hourly terms, ranging from around 650 hours in the west to 1,500 hours in the east. This illustrates the effect the Allardyce range has in breaking up cloud cover.

Westerly winds blow throughout the year interspersed with periods of calm—indeed, in 1963, 25% of winds were in the calm category at King Edward point, and the mean wind speed of around 8 knots is around half that of the Falkland Islands. This gives the eastern side of South Georgia (leeward side) a more pleasant climate than the exposed western side. The prevailing weather conditions generally make the islands difficult to approach by ship, though the north coast of South Georgia has several large bays which provide good anchorage.

The climate is classified as polar, and the weather is highly variable and harsh. Typical daily maximum temperatures in South Georgia at sea level are around 0 °C (32 °F) in winter (August) and 8 °C (46.4 °F) in summer (January). Winter minimum temperatures are typically about −5 °C (23 °F) and rarely dip below −10 °C (14 °F). Annual precipitation in South Georgia is about 1,500 mm (59.1 in), much of which falls as sleet or snow, which is possible in any month. Inland, the snow line in summer is at an altitude of about 300 m (984 ft).

Royal Bay and South Georgia Island
The South Sandwich Islands conspire with air currents to make wave patterns in clouds.
NASA satellite image of South Georgia Island covered with snow.

Climate

A series of six passages separates each of the islands or island groups in the chain. They are, from north to south: Zavodovski Isl. – Traverse passage – Visokoi Isl. – Brown's passage – Candlemas Isl. – Shackleton's passage – Saunders Isl. – Larsen's passage – Montagu Isl. – Biscoe's passage – Bristol Isl. – Forsters Passage – Southern Thule. Nelson Channel is the passage between Candlemas and Vindication Island.

Island
(Spanish name)
Area Highest peak Location
Traversay Islands
Protector Shoal −27 m (−89 ft)
Zavodovski 25 km2 (9.7 sq mi) Mount Asphyxia
550 m (1,800 ft)
Leskov 0.3 km2 (0.12 sq mi) Rudder Point
190 m (620 ft)
Visokoi 35 km2 (14 sq mi) Mount Hodson
915 m (3,002 ft)
Candlemas IslandsA
Candlemas
(Candelaria)
14 km2 (5.4 sq mi) Mount Andromeda
550 m (1,800 ft)
Vindication
(Vindicación)
5 km2 (1.9 sq mi) Quadrant Peak
430 m (1,410 ft)
Central islands
Saunders 40 km2 (15 sq mi) Mount Michael
990 m (3,250 ft)
Montagu
(Jorge)
110 km2 (42 sq mi) Mount Belinda
1,370 m (4,490 ft)
Bristol
(Blanca)
46 km2 (18 sq mi) Mount Darnley
1,100 m (3,600 ft)
Southern Thule (Tule del Sur)
Bellingshausen 1 km2 (0.39 sq mi) Basilisk Peak
255 m (837 ft)
Cook 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi) Mount Harmer
1,115 m (3,658 ft)
Thule (or Morrell) Island 14 km2 (5.4 sq mi) Mount Larsen
710 m (2,330 ft)
Vysokaya Bank
South Sandwich Islands 310 km2 (120 sq mi) Mount Belinda
1,370 m (4,490 ft)
A Sometimes included with the Traversay Islands.
The following table lists the South Sandwich Islands from north to south:

The South Sandwich Islands are uninhabited, though a permanently manned Argentine research station was located on Thule Island from 1976 to 1982 (for details, see "History" section above). There are automatic weather stations on Thule (Morrell) Island and Zavodovski. To the northwest of Zavodovski Island is the Protector Shoal, a submarine volcano.

The northernmost of the South Sandwich Islands form the Traversay Islands and Candlemas Islands groups, while the southernmost make up Southern Thule. The three largest islands – Saunders, Montagu and Bristol – lie between the two. The Islands' highest point is Mount Belinda (1,370 m or 4,495 ft) on Montagu Island.

The South Sandwich Islands (Spanish: Islas Sandwich del Sur) comprise 11 mostly volcanic islands (excluding tiny satellite islands and offshore rocks), with some active volcanoes. They form an island arc running north-south in the region 56°18'–59°27'S, 26°23'–28°08'W, between about 350 miles (560 km) and 500 miles (800 km) southeast of South Georgia.

NASA satellite photograph of Montagu Island.

South Sandwich Islands

  • Shag Rocks 185 km (115 mi) west-northwest of South Georgia Island
  • Black Rock 169 km (105 mi) west-northwest of South Georgia Island and 16 km (9.9 mi) southeast of the Shag Rocks
  • Clerke Rocks 56 km (35 mi) east-southeast of South Georgia Island

The following remote rocks are also considered part of the South Georgia Group:

View of Grytviken.

Smaller islands and islets off the coast of South Georgia Island include:

Geologically, the island consists of gneiss and argillaceous schists. There are no traces of fossils, indicating that the island, like the Falkland Islands, is a fragment of some greater land-mass now vanished. It was probably a former extension of the Andean system.

South Georgia Island lies at and has an area of 3,528 km2 (1,362 sq mi). It is mountainous and largely barren. Eleven peaks rise to over 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) high, their slopes furrowed with deep gorges filled with glaciers; the largest is Fortuna Glacier. The highest peak is Mount Paget in the Allardyce Range at 2,934 metres (9,626 ft).

Islands within the South Georgia group

The South Georgia group lies about 1,390 kilometres (864 mi) east-southeast of the Falkland Islands, at 54°–55°S, 36°–38°W. It comprises South Georgia Island itself (by far the largest island in the territory), and the islands that immediately surround it and some remote and isolated islets to the west and east-southeast. It has a total land area of 3,756 km2 (1,450 sq mi), including satellite islands (but excluding the South Sandwich Islands which form a separate island group).

South Georgia group

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a collection of islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. Most of the islands, rising steeply from the sea, are rugged and mountainous. At higher elevations, the islands are permanently covered with ice and snow.

CIA map of the Islands.

Geography

On 10 February 2008, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake had its epicentre 205 km (127 mi) SSE of Bristol Island.[11] On 30 June 2008 at 06:17:53 UTC, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the region. Its epicentre was at 58.160S 21.893W, 283 km (176 mi) ENE (73 degrees) of Bristol Island.[12] The United States Geological Survey reported that a 7.3 magnitude earthquake had occurred at 10:04 EDT on 15 Jul 2013, 216 km south-southeast of Bristol Island, South Sandwich Islands, at a depth of 31.3 km. The epicenter was located 2230 km southeast of Stanley, Falkland Islands.[13]

Argentina claimed the South Sandwich Islands in 1938, and challenged British sovereignty in the Islands on several occasions. From 25 January 1955 through mid-1956, Argentina maintained the summer station Teniente Esquivel at Ferguson Bay on the southeastern coast of Thule Island. Argentina maintained a naval base (Corbeta Uruguay) from 1976 to 1982, in the lee (southern east coast) of the same island. Although the British discovered the presence of the Argentine base in 1978, protested and tried to resolve the issue by diplomatic means, no effort was made to remove them by force until after the Falklands War. The base was removed on 20 June 1982.

Captain James Cook discovered the southern eight islands of the Sandwich Islands Group in 1775, although he lumped the southernmost three together, and their status as separate islands was not established until 1820 by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen.[10] The northern three islands were discovered by Bellingshausen in 1819. The islands were tentatively named "Sandwich Land" by Cook, although he also commented that they might be a group of islands rather than a single body of land. The name was chosen in honour of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty. The word "South" was later added to distinguish them from the "Sandwich Islands", now known as the Hawaiian Islands.

South Sandwich Islands

The island was recaptured by British forces on 25 April in King Edward Point base, which had become a small military garrison after the Falklands war, returned to civilian use in 2001 and is now operated by the British Antarctic Survey.

The attacked and occupied Grytviken. Among the commanding officers of the Argentine Garrison was Alfredo Astiz, a captain in the Argentine Navy who, years later, was convicted of felonies committed during the Dirty War in Argentina.

Topography of South Georgia Island.

During the German raiders, along with two four-inch shore guns (still present) protecting Cumberland Bay and Stromness Bay, manned by volunteers from among the Norwegian whalers. The base at King Edward Point was expanded as a research facility in 1949/1950 by the British Antarctic Survey, which until 1962 was called the Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey.

Historical and modern settlements of South Georgia Island.

Argentina claimed South Georgia in 1927.[9]

In April 1916, Frank Wild, who had been Shackleton's second-in-command on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, were interred next to Shackleton in 2011.

In about 1912, what is according to some accounts the largest whale ever caught, a blue whale of 33.58 metres (110 ft), was landed at Grytviken.[7][8]

In 1909, an administrative centre and residence were established at King Edward Point on South Georgia, near the whaling station of Grytviken. A permanent local British administration and resident Magistrate exercised effective possession, enforcement of British law, and regulation of all economic, scientific and other activities in the territory, which was then governed as the Falkland Islands Dependencies.

In 1908, the United Kingdom issued further South Orkneys, the South Shetlands, the South Sandwich Islands, and Graham Land. (The claim was extended in 1917 to include a sector of Antarctica reaching to the South Pole.)

From 1905, the Argentine Meteorological Office cooperated in maintaining a meteorological observatory at Grytviken under the British lease requirements of the whaling station until these changed in 1949.

A panoramic view of South Georgia taken by Frank Hurley during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
The church at Grytviken

With the end of the whaling industry, the stations were abandoned. Apart from a few preserved buildings such as the museum and church at Grytviken, only their decaying remains survive.

The whaling stations' tryworks were unpleasant and dangerous places to work. One was called "a charnel house boiling wholesale in vaseline" by an early 20th-century visitor. Its "putrid vapors [resembled] the pong of bad fish, manure, and a tanning works mixed together," wrote Tim Flannery, who noted one bizarre peril: "A rotting whale could fill with gas to bursting, ejecting a fetus the size of a motor vehicle with sufficient force to kill a man."[6]

  • Prince Olav Harbour (from 1911–1916 factory ship and small land-based station 1917–1931)
  • Leith Harbour (1909–1965)
  • Stromness (from 1907 factory ship, land-based station 1913–1931, repair yard to 1960/1961)
  • Husvik (from 1907 factory ship, land-based station 1910–1960, not in operation 1930–1945)
  • Grytviken (1904–1964)
  • Godthul (1908–1929, only a rudimentary land base, main operations on factory ship)
  • Ocean Harbour (1909–1920)

Whaling stations operated under leases granted by the (British) Governor of the Falkland Islands. The seven stations, all on the north coast with its sheltered harbours were, starting from the west:

Throughout the 19th century, South Georgia was a sealers' base as well as a whalers' base beginning in the 20th century, until whaling ended in the 1960s. A Norwegian, Carl Anton Larsen, established the first land-based whaling station and first permanent habitation at Grytviken in 1904. It operated through his Argentine Fishing Company, which settled in Grytviken.[4][5] The station remained in operation until 1965.

In 1882–1883, a German expedition for the First International Polar Year was stationed at Royal Bay on the southeast side of the island. The scientists of this group observed the transit of Venus and recorded waves produced by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.

Captain Letters Patent.

The Island of South Georgia is said to have been first sighted in 1675 by Anthony de la Roché, a London merchant, and was named Roche Island on a number of early maps. It was sighted by a commercial Spanish ship named León operating out of Saint-Malo on 28 June or 29 June 1756.[3] At one time it was confused with Pepys Island, which was "discovered" by Dampier and Cowley in 1683 but which later proved to be a phantom island.

South Georgia Island
Central South Georgia.
Cumberland Bay – Thatcher Peninsula with King Edward Cove (Grytviken) – Allardyce Range, featuring the summit of Mount Paget.
(NASA imagery)
Map by James Cook
(1777, south facing upwards)
Geography
Location Antarctic
Highest elevation 2,934 m (9,626 ft)
Highest point Mount Paget
Country
 South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Demographics
Population 30 (as of 2006)
Ethnic groups Britons

South Georgia

History

Contents

  • History 1
    • South Georgia 1.1
    • South Sandwich Islands 1.2
  • Geography 2
    • South Georgia group 2.1
      • Islands within the South Georgia group 2.1.1
    • South Sandwich Islands 2.2
  • Climate 3
  • Government 4
  • Economy 5
    • Fishing 5.1
    • Tourism 5.2
    • Postage stamps 5.3
    • Currency 5.4
  • Flora and fauna 6
    • Plants 6.1
    • Birds 6.2
    • Mammals 6.3
    • Marine ecosystem 6.4
  • Military 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Argentina maintained a naval station, continues to claim sovereignty over South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

The United Kingdom claimed Falkland Islands Dependencies. Argentina claimed South Georgia in 1927 and claimed the South Sandwich Islands in 1938.

There is no native population on the islands; the present inhabitants are the British Government Officer, Deputy Postmaster, scientists, and support staff from the Bird Island and at the capital, King Edward Point, as well as museum staff at nearby Grytviken.

[2] The total land area of the territory is 3,903 square kilometres (1,507 sq mi).[1]

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