South Shetland Islands

Overview

Introduction

The Shetlands, dependencies of the Falkland Islands, are cold and wet and covered with lichen, peat and moss. It's a climate preferred by seals, penguins and other Antarctic wildlife. These 11 islands, first explored in 1819 and claimed by Great Britain, Chile and Argentina, lie just off the Antarctic Peninsula and are a first or last stop on many Antarctic cruises from South America.


King George Island is the largest of the South Shetland Islands and the most populated. In addition to the diverse population of birds and seals, it hosts research stations for Chile, China, South Korea, Poland, Russia and Germany. The Chilean base is one of only two that allows families with children. (At least two children have been born there.) Two areas of the island are off-limits to protect unique fossils, plants and animals.

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