SOUTH GEORGIA & THE SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS

SOUTH GEORGIA & THE SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS

HISTORY

The islands, which have large bird and seal populations, lie approximately 1,000 km east of the Falkland Islands and have been under British administration since 1908 - except for a brief period in 1982 when Argentina occupied them. Grytviken, on South Georgia, was a 19th and early 20th century whaling station. Famed explorer Ernest SHACKLETON stopped there in 1914 en route to his ill-fated attempt to cross Antarctica on foot. He returned some 20 months later with a few companions in a small boat and arranged a successful rescue for the rest of his crew, stranded off the Antarctic Peninsula. He died in 1922 on a subsequent expedition and is buried in Grytviken. Today, the station houses scientists from the British Antarctic Survey. Recognizing the importance of preserving the marine stocks in adjacent waters, the UK, in 1993, extended the exclusive fishing zone from 12 nm to 200 nm around each island.


GEOGRAPHY

The north coast of South Georgia has several large bays, which provide good anchorage; reindeer, introduced early in the 20th century, live on South Georgia.
Location:Southern South America, islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, east of the tip of South America
Geographic coordinates:54 30 S, 37 00 W
Area:total: 3,903 sq km
land: 3,903 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Shag Rocks, Black Rock, Clerke Rocks, South Georgia Island, Bird Island, and the South Sandwich Islands, which consist of 11 islands

Size comparison: slightly larger than Rhode Island

Land Boundaries:0 km
Coastline:NA km
Maritime claims:territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate:variable, with mostly westerly winds throughout the year interspersed with periods of calm; nearly all precipitation falls as snow
Terrain:most of the islands, rising steeply from the sea, are rugged and mountainous; South Georgia is largely barren and has steep, glacier-covered mountains; the South Sandwich Islands are of volcanic origin with some active volcanoes
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Paget (South Georgia) 2,934 m
Natural resources:fish
Land use:arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (largely covered by permanent ice and snow with some sparse vegetation consisting of grass, moss, and lichen) (2009)
Irrigated land:0 sq km
Natural hazards:the South Sandwich Islands have prevailing weather conditions that generally make them difficult to approach by ship; they are also subject to active volcanism
Current Environment Issues:NA



Population:
no indigenous inhabitants note: the small military garrison on South Georgia withdrew in March 2001 replaced by a permanent group of scientists of the British Antarctic Survey, which also has a biological station on Bird Island; the South Sandwich Islands are uninhabited

GOVERNMENT:
conventional long form: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
conventional short form: none
abbreviation: SGSSI