|Facts about South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands|
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands||Territory of United Kingdom|
|Coordinates||54° 17′ 0″ S, 36° 30′ 0″ W|
|Capital||King Edward Point|
|Area||3,903 km2, 1,507 sq mi|
|Population||30 (2006 )|
|Government||British overseas territory|
|Time zone||GST (UTC−2)|
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Map
To see South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in the world map, one will have to look right down and then concentrate in the
About South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Located right above the Antarctic continent, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a desolate group of islands near the South Pole. These were originally uninhabited. In the present, South Georgia, the largest among all the islands, is the only one with some habitation. People staying here are surveyors and scientists working for the British Antarctic Survey, situated in Grytviken. Their main interest is in the islands’ unique geology, geography, atmosphere, and wildlife. There is another station in Bird Island in the north of South Georgia, which specializes in biological research.
South Georgia was discovered by an English merchant named Anthony de la Roché in 1675.However, it was mapped and surveyed by Captain James Cook in 1775. Historically, it had been a center for whaling and seal hunting activities, which has now become prohibited due to their exploitation.
Even though South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are taken together as a single territory of UK, they are quite different. The South Sandwich Islands lie 750 kms away from South Georgia. It is a chain of eleven isolated islands. Unlike South Georgia, researchers conducting their surveys did not create a permanent base in any of the islands. The only permanent living beings here are penguins, sea-birds, and seals. Captain Cook (1775) and Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (1819) are credited with the islands’ discovery.
Geography of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are geologically believed to be the southern extension of the South American Andes Mountains. The chain of islands formed in the extension is famously known as the Scotia Arc. The southern part constitutes the South Sandwich Islands. Many of the islands in the arc experience frequent tectonic and volcanic activity.
South Georgia has an area of about 3,755 sq kms, of which maximum is permanently glaciated. The coastal areas, though, are vegetated with several native and invasive floral species. The island is home to a variety of seals, penguins, and sea birds like albatross, petrels, the endemic South Georgia pipit, and even a carnivorous duck, the South Georgia Pintail. The highest point in the island is at 2,960 meters, which is Mount Paget.
South Sandwich Islands are similar yet harsher than South Georgia. Many of the uninhabited eleven islands have active volcanoes, and are heavily covered with snow. The most interesting of these islands is the one named as Zavodovski. It is famous for having one of the largest colonies in the world of Chinstrap Penguins.
How to reach South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Most of the visitors wishing to travel to the islands have academic or adventure-based interests, since traveling to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is no simple task. The only way is, of course, by sea, which is harsh and stormy in this part of the world. Many cruise companies offer tours to Antarctica and other nearby areas with complete expedition experience, including the necessary handling of documentation. These are affiliated to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), which ensures the safe and environmentally unobtrusive traveling to these parts on earth. Ushuaia in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay are some of the popular starting ports for these cruises. Independent travelers can find yachts for hire in Falkland Islands and the southern ports of Argentina. They will, however, require insurance and visit application permits to prove their self-sufficiency of surviving in the harsh climate.
Weather of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
In one word, the weather in South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands is harsh. It is in fact harsher than any other place in the same latitude. This is because of its proximity to Antarctica. In addition to the polar climate, the islands also experience harsh wintry conditions including dry snow and icy rainfall. During a typical year, the winter months – May to October – have on an average sub-zero temperature. South Georgia has a mean winter temperature of -2°C. The South Sandwich Islands have lower temperatures and harsher winds.
During the summer, you can still expect the islands to be cold and windy, but temperatures can reach up to 22°C at times. This is more so because of the ozone hole in the South Pole. Then again, November to March is the best time to visit South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands as the surrounding seas melt and are more accessible. Again, there are more hours of sunshine during this time. On an average, South Georgia has a summer temperature of 5 to 6°C.
Points of Interest in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Despite a harsh climate, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands have attractive destinations for the adventurers, naturalists, and historians. In its four centuries of history, the islands have seen the rise and fall of the whaling and sealing industries. Apart from these, the islands’ most remarkable attractions are the six species of penguins, about 10 million seabirds, and over four species of seals. Here, is an overview of the popular points of interest in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands:
South Georgia Museum – This museum in Grytviken is a must-visit attraction for visitors. Built as a whaling station, the house initially became a place to display whaling equipments. It was transformed into a museum by Nigel Bonner in 1991. In the present, this museum also showcases apart from the whaling history, the items and photographs associated with the island’s human history, social life, and distinctive wildlife.
Cemetery of Sir Ernest Shackleton – Located in Grytviken, the cemetery has graves of a number of personalities who died in or near the islands. The most famous is the tomb of the famous polar explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton, who died in 1922. The tomb is considered sacred and is visited by all who come to South Georgia. Other tombs here include that of William Barlas, a magistrate who lived at the time whaling flourished and Felix Artuso, an Argentine submariner.
Zavodovski Island – This South Sandwich Island is renowned for its breeding ground for the Chinstarp Penguins. Millions of these little penguins can be seen on the coast of this island.
Accommodation in South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
Owing to the absence of any permanent settlement, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands do not have any hotels or visitor accommodations available. In addition, authorities do not allow visitors to spend their nights onshore. Tourists, therefore, usually spend their nights in the cruise ship used for traveling to the islands. If one is visiting for research purposes and all the documentations are in order, then the authorities may permit camping onshore provided one has one's gear, rations, and other resources.