The coldest continent is home to the largest marine protected area, but who actually owns Antarctica and all of its icy glory? Lawfully, it is not a country because it has no government, and no indigenous population has claimed ownership. So who controls this icy land?
Currently, seven countries have made territorial claims to different parts of Antarctica, some of which overlap and under dispute. The countries are Britain, Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand and Norway. In fact, Australia just bagged three more islands from the icy wasteland with their territorial claims: Crocodile Island, Rhino Island and Uranus Island.
According to The Telegraph, it seems that Antarctica is owned by several countries, but despite all the territorial claims, a large portion of this frozen landmass still remains unclaimed. However, despite competing claims to Antarctica, the continent simultaneously belongs to nobody and everybody. This is according to the Antarctic Treaty penned in 1961.
An Austrian Government website explains that the treaty puts aside the potential for conflict over sovereignty. According to the treaty, any assertion or claim to territorial sovereignty on the continent is banned or denied. It also states that no new claims in any parts of the land should be made because the continent is set aside for peaceful and scientific purposes, the Daily Express reports.
In general, the treaty designates Antarctica as a land without an owner, serving as a “natural reserve, "devoted to peace and science”. Any territorial claims are nulled because the purpose of the continent is only to support scientific endeavors globally share scientific researches conducted in the land. Member of the United Nations that have signed up to the treaty has now reached 52, and rally behind the creation of the a marine park in an effort to "consistently support" the conservation of Antarctica.