Antarctica is the southernmost continent on Earth. The region, situated in the Antarctic region contains the geographic South Pole. With a surface of approximately 14 million km2, Antarctica is the fifth largest continent in the world. Most of its surface is entirely covered by ice. The continent has no current government, but various nations claim sovereignty in different regions of Antarctica.
The continent features a tundra climate and it is considered to be the coldest and windiest region in the world. With an annual rainfall of about 200 mm or 8 inches, Antarctica is considered a desert. Due to the harsh weather conditions, flora and fauna is quite scarce on the continent. Nonetheless, an Environment Protection Treaty has been established in order to protect the biodiversity in Antarctica.
Military activity, mineral mining, nuclear explosions, and waste disposal are all prohibited on the continent according to a treaty currently signed by 49 countries. The only economic activity in Antarctica is represented by off coast fishing and limited tourism. The Antarctican dollar represents a souvenir item and not a usable currency.
Several governments currently conduct various researches in Antarctica and have permanent stations in the region. There are approximately 70 research stations by about 30 countries. Only 40 of these stations are permanent, the other 30 operate only during summer. There is no permanent population inhabiting the continent, but researchers are present at any given moment. Approximately one thousand researchers reside during winter and about 5,000 during summer.