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South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
(overseas territory of the UK, also claimed by Argentina)

 
Flag of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
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Coordinates:
54.50 S  37.00 W

 
 
Introduction  Geography  People  Government  Economy
 
Communications  Transportation  Military  Transnational Issues

Map of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

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Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Top of Page
Background:
Definition Field Listing
The islands lie approximately 1,000 km east of the Falkland Islands and have been under British administration since 1908, except for a brief period in 1982 when Argentina occupied them. Grytviken, on South Georgia, was a 19th and early 20th century whaling station. Famed explorer Ernest SHACKLETON stopped there in 1914 en route to his ill-fated attempt to cross Antarctica on foot. He returned some 20 months later with a few companions in a small boat and arranged a successful rescue for the rest of his crew, stranded off the Antarctic Peninsula. He died in 1922 on a subsequent expedition and is buried in Grytviken. Today, the station houses scientists from the British Antarctic Survey. The islands have large bird and seal populations, and, recognizing the importance of preserving the marine stocks in adjacent waters, the UK, in 1993, extended the exclusive fishing zone from 12 nm to 200 nm around each island.
   Geography    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Top of Page
Location:
Definition Field Listing
Southern South America, islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, east of the tip of South America
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
54 30 S, 37 00 W
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Antarctic Region
Area:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 3,903 sq km
land: 3,903 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Shag Rocks, Black Rock, Clerke Rocks, South Georgia Island, Bird Island, and the South Sandwich Islands, which consist of some nine islands
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than Rhode Island
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
0 km
Coastline:
Definition Field Listing
NA km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Climate:
Definition Field Listing
variable, with mostly westerly winds throughout the year interspersed with periods of calm; nearly all precipitation falls as snow
Terrain:
Definition Field Listing
most of the islands, rising steeply from the sea, are rugged and mountainous; South Georgia is largely barren and has steep, glacier-covered mountains; the South Sandwich Islands are of volcanic origin with some active volcanoes
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Paget (South Georgia) 2,934 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
fish
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (largely covered by permanent ice and snow with some sparse vegetation consisting of grass, moss, and lichen) (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
0 sq km
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
the South Sandwich Islands have prevailing weather conditions that generally make them difficult to approach by ship; they are also subject to active volcanism
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
NA
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
the north coast of South Georgia has several large bays, which provide good anchorage; reindeer, introduced early in the 20th century, live on South Georgia
   People    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Top of Page
Population:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
no indigenous inhabitants
note: the small military garrison on South Georgia withdrew in March 2001, to be replaced by a permanent group of scientists of the British Antarctic Survey, which also has a biological station on Bird Island; the South Sandwich Islands are uninhabited (July 2006 est.)
   Government    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
conventional short form: none
Dependency status:
Definition Field Listing
overseas territory of the UK, also claimed by Argentina; administered from the Falkland Islands by a commissioner, who is concurrently governor of the Falkland Islands, representing Queen ELIZABETH II; Grytviken - formerly a whaling station on South Georgia - is a scientific base
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
the laws of the UK, where applicable, apply; the senior magistrate from the Falkland Islands presides over the Magistrates Court
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
none (overseas territory of the UK, also claimed by Argentina)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
none (overseas territory of the UK, also claimed by Argentina)
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands coat of arms centered on the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms features a shield with a golden lion centered; the shield is supported by a fur seal on the left and a penguin on the right; a reindeer appears above the shield, and below it on a scroll is the motto LEO TERRAM PROPRIAM PROTEGAT (Let the Lion Protect its Own Land)
   Economy    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
Some fishing takes place in adjacent waters. There is a potential source of income from harvesting finfish and krill. The islands receive income from postage stamps produced in the UK, sale of fishing licenses, and harbor and landing fees from tourist vessels. Tourism from specialized cruise ships is increasing rapidly.
   Communications    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Top of Page
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: coastal radiotelephone station at Grytviken
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
0 (2003)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
0 (2003)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
.gs
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
213 (2005)
   Transportation    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Top of Page
Airports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
none (2005)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing
Grytviken
   Military    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Top of Page
Military - note:
Definition Field Listing
defense is the responsibility of the UK
   Transnational Issues    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Argentina, which claims the islands in its constitution and briefly occupied the islands by force in 1982, agreed in 1995 to no longer seek settlement by force

This page was last updated on 20 July, 2006


Source: CIA Factbook