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Making claims

Early Southern Ocean explorers, sealers and whalers claimed for their countries the islands closest to Antarctica as they discovered them in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Once expeditions began to discover the Antarctic continent, they too claimed the parts they saw. Seven Antarctic territorial claims still exist today.


Territorial claims

  • Download a big map (pdf) of the territorial claims.
  • Download and read ‘Territorial claims: a slice of history’ and then answer these questions:
  • Why do you think countries wanted to claim part of Antarctica?
  • Why do you think the claims are all wedge shaped?
  • Why do you think there is a segment of Antarctica which no country has claimed?
  • Can you think of other places in the world which no country has claimed?
  • Can you think of other parts of the world where different countries disagree over who owns or controls territory?
  • Would the Antarctic Treaty approach work there? Why or why not?
British Antarctic Territory Stamps Definitive set of explorers, issued in 1973. © British Antarctic Survey, Chris Gilbert