Antarctica has a fascinating history. This section covers the discovery of Antarctica and beyound with a chapter by chapter account as well as special sections on explorers, and other themes.
- Belgium and Antarctica
Belgium may be a small country in the centre of Europe, but it played an important role in the exploration and discovery of Antarctica. Belgium was one of the early signatories to the Antarctic Treaty and after a long absence, now has an summer station in Dronning Maud land. To this day several Belgian’s are active explorers in the Polar Region’s.
- Terra Australis Incognita
The name Antarctica was found by the ancient Greeks. They were convinced that the earth was round and, in that way, consisted of a northern and a southern hemisphere. According to the philosopher, Aristotle (384-322 BC), nature was symmetrical. If there was a cold zone in the North of the world, then there must be a cold area on the other side as well. The North Pole is located under the constellation of the great bear (‘arktos’ in Greek). Antarctica means: opposite the bear.
- Closer and closer
In 1642 Abel Tasman left port to search for the legendary southern continent under the order of the governor-general of the Dutch East India Company in Batavia, Anthonie van Diemen. Tasman sailed around Australia without seeing the continent, but nevertheless discovered Tasmania and the west coast of New Zealand, which, of course, he thought was part of the Antarctic continent.