Antarctica Day – 01 December 2017

Every year on the 1st of December we celebrate Antarctica Day to commemorate the agreement of the Antarctic Treaty.

Why is this day so special for all involved (including South Africans) in the Antarctic region?

It was decided that Antarctica “shall forever be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord”. On the 1st of December 1959, 12 Nations (including South Africa, the only African signatory) signed the Antarctic Treaty agreeing to 14 commands, including that Antarctica will be used for peaceful purposes only. Today, Antarctica is seen as “a natural reserve, devoted to peace and SCIENCE”.

Download the Antarctic Treaty document here to read all 14 commands.

South Africans have been going down south for scientific explorations since 1960, the year of the first South African National Antarctic Expedition (SANAE). Scientist travel yearly to South Africa’s fourth base, SANAE IV, which is situated in Dronning Maud Land (71°S, 2°W) where an overwintering team consisting of 10 people are housed. The South African government’s programme for research in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions are called South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP).

This year ALSA has decided to celebrate this day by collaborating with Iziko South Africa Museum, where an Antarctic exhibition will be held in the Marion Island exhibition section of Iziko South Africa Museum, Cape Town. This exhibition will include photographs, books and maps of South Africa’s involvement in the Antarctic region.

When: 01 – 31 December 2017

Where: Iziko Museum of Cape Town, 5 Queen Victoria St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town. 

Museum hours: 10am – 5pm

More information on Iziko South Africa Museum: click here

Anché Louw, Antarctic Legacy of South Africa, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, 30 November 2017

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