South Orkney Islands

South Orkney Islands
Signy Island Panorama.jpg
Signy Island base and panorama
South Orkney Islands-en.svg
Map of the South Orkney Islands
Geography
Area620 km2 (240 sq mi)
Highest elevation4,153 ft (1,265.8 m)
Administration
Administered under the Antarctic Treaty System
Demographics
Populationapprox. 53-55 (Summer) 14 (Winter)

The South Orkney Islands are a group of islands in the Southern Ocean, about 604 kilometres (375 mi) north-east of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.[1] They have a total area of about 620 square kilometres (240 sq mi). The islands are claimed both by Britain (as part of the British Antarctic Territory since 1962, previously as a Falkland Islands Dependency), and by Argentina as part of Argentine Antarctica. Under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, sovereignty claims are held in abeyance.

The South Orkney Islands are a group of islands in the Southern Ocean, about 604 kilometres (375 mi) north-east of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.[1]

Britain and Argentina both maintain bases on the islands. The Argentine base, Orcadas, established 1904, is sited on Laurie Island. The 11 buildings of the Argentine station house up to 45 people during the summer, and an average of 14 during winter. The British Antarctic Survey base, Signy Research Station, is located on Signy Island and was established in 1947. Initially operated year-round, since 1995/6 the Signy Research Station has been open only from November to April each year (southern hemisphere summer).

Apart from personnel at the bases, there are no permanent inhabitants on the islands.

History

Signy Island base

The South Orkney Islands were discovered in 1821 by two sealers, the American Nathaniel Brown Palmer and the British George Powell. The Islands were originally named Powell's Group, with the main island named Coronation Island as it was the year of the coronation of King George IV. In 1823, James Weddell visited the Islands, gave the archipelago its present name (after the Orkney Islands, Scotland) and also renamed some of the islands. The South Orkney Islands are located at roughly the same latitude south as the Orkney Islands are north (60°S vs 59°N), although it is not known if this was a factor behind the naming of the islands.

Subsequently, the islands were frequently visited by sealers and whalers, but no thorough survey was done until the expedition of William Speirs Bruce on the Scotia in 1903, which overwintered at Laurie Island. Bruce surveyed the islands, reverted some of Weddell's name changes, and established a meteorological station, which was sold to the Argentine Government upon his departure in 1904. This base, renamed Orcadas in 1951, is still in operation today and is thus the oldest research station continuously staffed in the Antarctic.

A 1944 stamp of the Falkland Islands overprinted for use in the South Orkneys.

In 1908, the United Kingdom declared sovereignty over various Antarctic and South American territories "to the south of the 50th parallel of south latitude, and lying between the 20th and the 80th degrees of west longitude", including the South Orkney Islands.[2] The Islands were subsequently administered as part of the Falkland Islands Dependencies. A biological research station on Signy Island was built in 1947 by the British Antarctic Survey, and was staffed year-round until 1996, when the Station staffing was reduced to 8-10 personnel who remained only during the southern hemisphere summer (November to April each year). In 1962, the islands became part of the newly established British Antarctic Territory.

The Argentine claim to the islands dates from 1925. It was originally justified by the Argentine occupation of the Laurie Island base and later subsumed into a wider territorial claim.[3]

Other Languages
Ænglisc: Sūþorcanege
čeština: Jižní Orkneje
Ελληνικά: Νότιες Ορκάδες
Esperanto: Sudaj Orkadoj
euskara: Hego Orkadak
Bahasa Indonesia: Kepulauan Orkney Selatan
norsk nynorsk: Sør-Orknøyane
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Janubiy orkni orollari
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Južna Orknijska ostrva