The South Shetland Islands are the first visible sights of Antarctica, when one cruises towards the Antarctica Peninsula. The Antarctica Peninsula is only 120 kilometers north of these islands. The South Shetland Islands are an integral part of the various island groups of Antarctica. These islands range from 6100'-6337'south and 5383'-6283'west. The islands are spread over an area of 3687 square kilometers and have four major island groups, which span to around 540 kilometers.
There are several small islands, which club up together to form the South Shetland Islands. Some of these islands are volcanic in origin and nature. The most important islands in this group include the Elephant Island, King George Island, Penguin Island, Aitcho Island, Livingston Island, Half Moon Island, Bridgeman Island, Smith Island, Deception Island, Greenwich Island, and many more. Most of these islands are unpopulated and have scanty vegetation in the form of mosses, lichens and green algae.
The South Shetland Islands in Antarctica are almost under total ice cover. Only some of the costal areas are devoid of ice and are home to several wildlife species like the penguins, seals and wide variety of sea-birds. All the smaller islands in South Shetland Islands, Antarctica have acquired special significance, specially the King George Island. Most of the cruise ships reach these interesting islands. There are several research stations of various countries on the South Shetland Islands.