Is Antarctica a pie chart?

Hi, this is Anna. I’m responsible for the maps you can find in our choropleth and symbol map editor. Last week, Hans showed Antarctica from a slightly different perspective. I realized that we didn’t have any maps of Antarctica – so I decided to go ahead and add one to our base map collection.

Antarctica is the only continent that does not have any permanent inhabitants (if you don’t count all the penguins, sea lions etc.). Still, 7 states have territorial claims in Antarctica. At the turn of the 20th century, many explorers made expeditions to this cold and inhospitable part of the world. At this time, colonial powers claimed the large parts of the world that did not have a national flag on their ground yet – including Antarctica. A “first come, first served” principle applied. France was the first country to claim all of Antarctica in 1840, but eventually gave up their all-encompassing claim. Since then, the borders have changed many times. Today, Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, Norway, New Zealand and the United Kingdom all have territorial claims in Antarctica.

Since Antarctica mostly consists of ice and there are no natural borders, the continent was split into territorial sectors aligned with the longitude, which make the map of the territorial claims look almost like a pie chart! The map above shows each state’s stake on Antarctica. Some of the territories are claimed by more than one nation (Chile, Argentina and the United Kingdom).

Even though states don’t profit directly (yet?) from claims on Antarctica, giving up a claim would have changed the power balance in the world especially during the Cold War.

In 1961, the Antarctic Treaty was signed by 54 states. They agreed on using Antarctica for peaceful purposes only – allowing free scientific investigation, prohibiting mining and banning military activity. The signing countries also decided that no new land claims can be made on Antarctica.

It is still uncertain what resources in terms of minerals and oil Antarctica holds and in 2048, the Antarctica Treaty will be open for re-negotiantions.


If you want to make your own Antarctica map, create a choropleth or symbol map by clicking on “Create a map” on our maps page. Thanks for reading, until next time!

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