The world protected Antarctica

In 1991 Antarctica was designated as a place of science and peace
In 1991 Antarctica was designated as a place of science and peace

The world protected Antarctica

Our photography shows the Greenpeace World Park Base at Cape Evans on Ross Island (77ø 38'S, 166ø 24'E), Antarctica in 1991. The Antarctic Treaty 1959 aimed to preserve the continent for peaceful, scientific purposes. But in the 1980s, suspecting oil and mineral deposits were present under the ice and rock, efforts were made to mine Antarctica.

This base was part of Greenpeace’s campaign, using science and political pressure, to protect the area. 
A natural reserve, devoted to peace and science

Working globally with other non-governmental organisations, the campaign persevered for seven years and ended when the Protocol on Environmental Protection was added to the Antarctic Treaty and signed in Madrid on October 4, 1991.

The Protocol designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science” (Art. 2) and made the entire continent off-limits to commercial exploitation and pollution.

It underlined the importance of the continent – an eco-system relatively untouched by human interference and argued at the time to be the only pristine wilderness left on Earth. In 1991, Antarctica became a powerful symbol for the responsible treatment of the planet and for successful international cooperation. Boldly underlined an old Greenpeace belief: nothing is impossible.
An entire continent off-limits to commercial exploitation and pollution

Key facts


of the world’s freshwater reserves are stored in Antarctica.

At 0.00008

people per square kilometre, it is by far the least densely populated continent.


Exploitation of all mineral resources is banned until 2048 by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.


Antarctica is defined as all land and ice shelves south of 60° S.


is the two letter country code for the entire continent assigned by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

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