FACT CHECK: Is it truly illegal to travel to Antarctica?

On Instagram, a social media user claimed that it is illegal to travel to Antarctica.

The Instagram post partly reads: “Do you think these are the reasons why it’s illegal to go to Antarctica?”

The post had gathered over 26,900 likes as of the time of this report. In the video post, a man can be heard saying there is an ancient race of super-beings with big angular heads, pyramids and a hidden tropical rainforest in Antarctica. 

But there is no evidence that pyramids and tropical rainforests exist in Antarctica. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an independent US agency responsible for the civil space program, aeronautics and space research, has numerous satellite photos of the ice-covered continent on its website and none of them contains evidence of pyramids nor rainforests. 

Antarctica is a unique continent in the southern hemisphere with no native human population. It is the fifth-largest continent in terms of total area, larger than both Oceania and Europe.

Although there are no countries in Antarctica, seven countries claim different parts of it including France, Argentina, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, ChileAustralia, and Norway.

How true is the claim that it is illegal to visit Antarctica?

TOURISTS VISIT ANTARCTICA EACH YEAR

Since 1950, the number of people who visit Antarctica has increased yearly. 

Going by data provided by the Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty, a subsidiary body of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM), about 74,000 people visited Antarctica during the 2019-2020 season.

To visit the continent, there are established regulations to be adhered to, and they include taking conscious steps to preserve historic sites, not disturbing local wildlife, and the need to avoid bringing in non-native species. 

In addition, the home countries of individual travellers also have ground rules which differ from country to country. For instance, Americans who plan to visit Antarctica would have to notify the state department three months before embarking on the expedition.

VERDICT

It is not illegal to travel to Antarctica, evidence shows that thousands of people visit the continent yearly.


This content was produced with support from the Independent Media Response Fund, an initiative of the Check Global Program at Meedan to respond to global challenges through hyperlocal initiatives. The fund is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). 

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