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Organisms native to Antarctica include many types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and certain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades. Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") date back to antiquity, Antarctica is noted as the last region on Earth in recorded history to be discovered and colonised by humans, unsighted until 1820 when the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev on Vostok and Mirny sighted the Fimbul ice shelf.
The continent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of easily accessible resources, and isolation.
It contains the geographic South Pole and is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean.
At 14,000,000 square kilometres (5,400,000 square miles), it is the fifth-largest continent.
Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents.), though the average for the third quarter (the coldest part of the year) is −63 °C (−81 °F).
Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent.
Ongoing experiments are conducted by more than 4,000 scientists from many nations.
He sailed along a huge wall of ice that was later named the Ross Ice Shelf.For comparison, Antarctica is nearly twice the size of Australia.About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages 1.9 km (1.2 mi; 6,200 ft) in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula.Even in the late 17th century, after explorers had found that South America and Australia were not part of the fabled "Antarctica", geographers believed that the continent was much larger than its actual size.Integral to the story of the origin of the name "Antarctica" is how it was not named Terra Australis—this name was given to Australia instead, and it was because of a mistake made by people who decided that a significant landmass would not be found farther south than Australia.