South Georgia is one of the most remote and wild places on the planet. This group of subantarctic islands is composed of the island of South Georgia and a few other islets.
In this article we are going to show you everything you need to know about South Georgia. If you are thinking of carrying out an expedition to a special place, you have good physical shape and you want to discover landscapes that you can only enjoy in the Antarctic region, get ready to know everything about the South Georgia Islands.
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are a remote archipelago, close to Antarctica, that has a great biodiversity. In addition to the fauna of the place, these South Georgia and Sandwich Islands have become one of the most privileged places on the planet for nature lovers and also for students of the natural world.
These islands were discovered in 1675 by Anthony de la Roché, a British navigator. Since their discovery, over the centuries these islands have had great importance. Currently these islands are part of the United Kingdom, since it is a British overseas territory.
However, this was not the case before and the islands became the center of the whaling industry. This caused a large decline in the population of whales and seals. In addition to its fauna, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands were also the scene of military conflicts between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
It was in 1982 during the Falklands War where they had great military importance. Since that year this archipelago of South Georgia is administered by the United Kingdom, as we have mentioned before, as an overseas territory.
These South Georgian Islands are composed of several islands and islets. The largest of all the islands are St. Peter’s Island, St. Paul’s Island and Bird Island. One of the most striking aspects of the islands is their particular geography. South Georgia boasts a geography dominated by rugged mountains, with Mount Paget at 2,934 metres being its highest mountain.
In addition to its mountains and wildlife, South Georgia is known for its harsh climate. A windy climate whose temperatures rarely exceed 10 degrees Celsius.
South Georgia Map
South Georgia is located between parallels 54º and 55º South and meridians 35º45′ and 38º23′ West. These islands are located 1300 kilometers away from the Falkland Islands and 1700 from the island of the States.
During the summer almost 75% of the extension of the islands is covered by snow, ice and glaciers. During the winter, a cover of snow reaches the sea coast. There is no doubt that the Georgian Islands are one of the most remote and wild places on earth.
Who owns South Georgia?
South Georgia is a British Overseas Territory. Although the executive power of the islands resides in Charles III of the United Kingdom, they are represented by the governor of the British overseas territory of the Falkland Islands. The Governor is also the Commissioner of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
An assistant to the commissioner himself is in charge of the police affairs of the islands and is also responsible for fisheries matters, for example, fishing licenses. The administrative affairs of its territory are carried out by two operations managers and elections have never been held on the islands. It is the United Kingdom’s own Foreign Office that is responsible for the international relations of these South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.
What wildlife can be seen in South Georgia
Although they may seem an inhospitable territory, away from everything, the South Georgia Islands have a rich fauna that is worth knowing. Let’s see some of the most representative species that inhabit the islands.
One of the most representative animals of the South Georgia Islands are penguins. The South Georgia Islands are home to a large number of penguins of different species among which are king penguins, macaroni and gentoo penguins. These animals gather in colonies in the South Georgia Islands where they breed and feed their young.
Beyond penguins, South Georgia is famous for its whales. In fact, these islands are a paradise for whales and are also inhabited by several species of whales. If you visit the South Georgia Islands you can meet species such as the humpback whale, the southern right and the most imposing of all, the great blue whale.
The blue whale is the largest mammal in the world, so it is quite a spectacle to see it in the South Georgia Islands. In addition to whales, you will also find orcas and dolphins playing in the waves, so marine diversity is most abundant and dangerous.
In the South Georgia Islands you can also see southern elephant seals. You can see these animals resting peacefully on the ice and, the truth, it is a spectacle for the eyes due to its large size, since they can weigh several tons. One of the best times to visit the South Georgia Islands is during the mating season of these southern elephant seals. During mating, these mammals compete for territory and carry out fierce struggles for the females of the place.
Much milder than southern elephant seals are seals. In the South Georgia Islands you will find several different species of seals, so you can enjoy the leopard seal or the crabeater seal, as they are the two most common species in the region. As with southern elephant seals, these seals often rest on the ice, so it’s easy to enjoy them from the safest distance.
Finally, not everything is aquatic animals, since seabirds also have a presence in the South Georgia Islands. On these islands you will find a wide variety of land birds such as seagulls, ducks or songbirds. Note also that there is the mouse of the South Georgian Islands.
This South Georgian mouse is an endemic species of the islands themselves, targeted by many conservation programs due to its vulnerability. In addition to this, you can also enjoy majesticalbatrosses, petrels, cormorants and other birds that take advantage of the large number of cliffs and rocks on the islands to prepare their nests and incubate their young despite the prominent cold of the region.