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ANTARTIKA

Antarktika (dari bahasa Yunani “antarktikos”, lawan kata arktik atau anti-arktik) merupakan benua yang meliputi Kutub Selatan Bumi. Tempat terdingin di muka bumi ini sebagian besar tertutup es sepanjang tahun. Meskipun legenda dan spekulasi tentang sebuah Terra Australis (“Tanah Selatan”) sudah ada sejak zaman kuno, penemuan benua yang pertama kali diterima umum terjadi pada 1820 dan pendaratan yang pertama tercatat tahun 1821. Namun demikian, peta yang dibuat Laksamana Piri Reis tahun 1513 memuat sebuah benua selatan yang diduga sebagai pantai Antarktika. (Lihat juga Sejarah Antarktika).

Dengan luas 13.200.000 km², Antarktika adalah benua terluas kelima setelah Eurasia, Afrika, Amerika Utara, dan Amerika Selatan namun populasinya terkecil jauh di bawah yang lain (umumnya dihuni oleh para peneliti dan ilmuwan untuk batas waktu tertentu saja). Benua ini juga memiliki ketinggian tanah rata-rata tertinggi, kelembaban rata-rata terendah, dan suhu rata-rata terendah di antara semua benua di bumi.

Antarktika merupakan zona bebas, walaupun sampai saat ini masih ada beberapa negara di dunia yang mengajukan klaim kepemilikan wilayah di benua Antarktika tersebut.

Meski keberadaan benua Antarktika sudah diduga sejak lama, namun benua ini baru ditemukan pada tahun 1820. Siapa yang menemukannya pertama kali tidaklah jelas sebab ada tiga orang dari tiga negara yang mengklaimnya yaitu: Fabian von Bellingshausen dari Rusia, Edward Bransfield dari Britania Raya dan Nathaniel Palmer dari Amerika Serikat.

Pada tahun 1911 Roald Amundsen dari Norwegia adalah orang pertama yang mencapai kutub selatan. Tidak lama kemudian ia disusul oleh Robert Falcon Scott dari Britania Raya

Iklim
Antarktika adalah tempat terdingin di Bumi dengan suhu mencapai -85 dan -90 derajat Celsius di musim dingin dan 30 derajat lebih tinggi di musim panas. Bagian tengahnya dingin dan kering serta hanya mengalami sedikit curah hujan. Turunnya salju juga terjadi di bagian pesisir, dengan catatan tertinggi 48 inchi dalam 48 jam. Hampir seluruh benua ini diselimuti es setebal rata-rata 2,5 kilometer.

Tergantung pada lintangnya serta waktu malam atau siang yang konstan, membuat iklim yang biasa dialami manusia tidak terdapat di benua ini.

Hewan yang umum dijumpai di wilayah ini adalah pinguin. Pinguin adalah jenis burung yang tidak bisa terbang, namun pinguin merupakan penyelam yang ulung. Hewan lainnya adalah singa laut, anjing laut dan ikan paus.

Discussion

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