Who was the first person on Antarctica?

Historians are unsure who first set foot on Antarctica, the fifth largest continent, covering ten percent of Earth’s surface with its area of 5.1 million square miles (13.2 million square kilometers). Between 1773 and 1775 British Captain James Cook (1728–1779) circumnavigated the continent. American explorer Nathaniel Palmer (1799–1877) discovered Palmer Peninsula in 1820, without realizing that this was a continent. That same year, Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (1779–1852) sighted the Antarctic continent. American sealer John Davis went ashore at Hughes Bay on February 7, 1821. In 1823, sealer James Weddell (1787–1834) traveled the farthest south (74 degrees south) that anyone had until that time and entered what is now called the Weddell Sea. In 1840, American Charles Wilkes (1798–1877), who followed the coast for 1,500 miles (2,414 kilometers), announced the existence of Antarctica as a continent. In 1841, Sir James Clark Ross (1800–1862) discovered Victoria Land, Ross Island, Mount Erebus, and the Ross Ice Shelf. In 1895, the whaler Henryk Bull landed on the Antarctic continent. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (1872–1928) was the first to reach the South Pole on December 14, 1911. Thirty-four days later, Amundsen’s rival Robert Falcon Scott (1868–1912) stood at the South Pole, the second to do so, but he and his companions died during their return trip.


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