South Atlantic Council
Promoting communication and understanding
The South Atlantic: Looking Ahead
A conference organised by the South Atlantic Council on 15 April 2011
The information given below was provided by the speaker. None of the presentations are endorsed by the Council.
Notes on Claims to the Antarctic Territories
By Dr Robert Headland
The following definitions, in chronological order, apply to national sovereign claims over territory below 60°S latitude. This is the region under the ægis of the Antarctic Treaty (1959). [The coast is considered to be the edges of ice-shelves and shores which meet the ocean (a place approachable by an ice-breaker).]
The United Kingdom
1908 Royal Letters Patent of 21 July consolidated claims as the Falkland Islands Dependencies, "South Georgia, the South Orkneys, the South Shetlands and the Sandwich Islands, and the territory known as Graham's Land, situated in the South Atlantic Ocean to the south of the 50th parallel of south latitude, and lying between the 20th and 80th degrees of west longitude".
1917 Royal Letters Patent of 28 March amended the definition to "all islands and territories whatsoever between the 20th degree west longitude and the 50th degree west longitude which are situated south of the 50th parallel of south latitude; and all islands and territories whatsoever between the 50th degree west longitude and the 80th degree west longitude which are situated south of the 60th parallel of south latitude".
1962 Order in Council of 26 February established British Antarctic Territory as a separate colony comprising "all islands and territories whatsoever between the 20th degree of west longitude and 80th degree of west longitude which are situated south of the 60th parallel of south latitude".
[British Antarctic Territory encompasses a 60° arc (17% sector; 14% of which is disputed with Argentina and 8% with Chile). It includes the South Shetland Islands and South Orkney Islands. Its continental coast extends for 41% of that of Antarctica.]
1923 British Order in Council of 30 July established the Ross Dependency, "the coasts of the Ross sea, with the islands and territories adjacent thereto, between the 160th degree of East Longitude and the 150th degree of West Longitude, which are situated south of the 60th degree of South Latitude", under the administration of the Governor General of New Zealand as the Governor of the Dependency; the Ross Dependency was incorporated into the Realm of New Zealand on 28 October 1983.
[The Ross Dependency encompasses a 50° arc (14% sector). It includes the Balleny Islands and Scott Island. Its continental coast extends for 12% of that of Antarctica.]
1924 Presidential Decree of 27 March reserved rights in Terre Adélie.
1938 Presidential Decree of 1 April fixed the boundaries of Terre Adélie, "The islands and territories situated south of the 60-degree parallel of south latitude and between the 136-degree and 142-degree meridians of longitude east of Greenwich".
[Terre Adélie encompasses a 6° arc (1·4% sector). Its coast extends for 0·8% of that of Antarctica.]
1931 Royal Proclamation of 1 May: Peter I Øy (Peter I Island) is placed under Norwegian sovereignty.
1939 Royal Proclamation of 14 January annexed Dronning Maud Land, "That portion of the Antarctic mainland coast which extends from the limits of the Falkland Islands Dependencies in the west (the limits of Coats land) to the limits of the Australian Antarctic Territory in the east (45°E long.) with the land lying inside this coast and the environing sea".
[Dronning Maud Land encompasses a 65° arc (18% sector). Its coast extends for 13% of that of Antarctica.]
1933 British Order in Council of 7 February established Australian Antarctic Territory, "all the islands and territories other than Adélie Land situated south of the 60th degrees South Latitude and lying between the 160th degree of East Longitude and the 45th degree of East Longitude".
[The Australian Antarctic Territory encompasses a 109° arc (30% sector). Its coast extends for 22% of that of Antarctica.]
1940 Presidential Decree of 6 November established Territorio Chileno Antártico, "All lands, islands, reefs of rocks, glaciers (pack-ice), already known, or to be discovered, and their respective territorial waters, in the sector between longitudes 53 and 90 degrees West".
[Territorio Chileno Antártico encompasses a 37° arc (10% sector; 7% of which is disputed with Argentina and 8% with Britain). It includes the South Shetland Islands. Its continental coast extends for 35% of that of Antarctica.]
1943 The Argentine Foreign Minister sent a memorandum to the British Ambassador in Buenos Aires, on 15 February, re-affirming Argentine sovereign rights over all Antarctic lands and dependencies south of latitude 60°S and between 25°W and 68°34'W.
1947 The Comisión Nacional del Antártico extended the western boundary of the claim to 74°W forming Antártida Argentina, on 12 March.
[Antártida Argentina encompasses a 49° arc (14% sector; 7% of which is disputed with Chile and 14% with Britain). It includes the South Shetland Islands and South Orkney Islands. Its continental coast extends for 37% of that of Antarctica.]
R. K. Headland, 30 September 2005
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