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Exchange Rate Home >> Country Info >> South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

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  South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands   
Introduction
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational
Issues
  Introduction Back To Top

Background:
The islands, which have large bird and seal populations, lie approximately 1,000 km east of the Falkland Islands and have been under British administration since 1908 - except for a brief period in 1982 when Argentina occupied them. Grytviken, on South Georgia, was a 19th and early 20th century whaling station. Famed explorer Ernest SHACKLETON stopped there in 1914 en route to his ill-fated attempt to cross Antarctica on foot. He returned some 20 months later with a few companions in a small boat and arranged a successful rescue for the rest of his crew, stranded off the Antarctic Peninsula. He died in 1922 on a subsequent expedition and is buried in Grytviken. Today, the station houses scientists from the British Antarctic Survey. Recognizing the importance of preserving the marine stocks in adjacent waters, the UK, in 1993, extended the exclusive fishing zone from 12 nm to 200 nm around each island.

  Geography Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

Climate:
variable, with mostly westerly winds throughout the year interspersed with periods of calm; nearly all precipitation falls as snow

Map references:
Antarctic Region

Geographic coordinates:
54 30 S, 37 00 W

Natural resources:
fish

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Paget (South Georgia) 2,934 m

Terrain:
most of the islands, rising steeply from the sea, are rugged and mountainous; South Georgia is largely barren and has steep, glacier-covered mountains; the South Sandwich Islands are of volcanic origin with some active volcanoes

Geography - note:
the north coast of South Georgia has several large bays, which provide good anchorage; reindeer, introduced early in the 20th century, live on South Georgia

Area:
total: 3,903 sq km
land: 3,903 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: includes Shag Rocks, Black Rock, Clerke Rocks, South Georgia Island, Bird Island, and the South Sandwich Islands, which consist of 11 islands

Location:
Southern South America, islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, east of the tip of South America

Coastline:
NA km

Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Rhode Island

Irrigated land:
0 sq km

Environment - current issues:
NA

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
the South Sandwich Islands have prevailing weather conditions that generally make them difficult to approach by ship; they are also subject to active volcanism

Land use:
arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (largely covered by permanent ice and snow with some sparse vegetation consisting of grass, moss, and lichen) (2005)

  People Back To Top

Population:
no indigenous inhabitants
note: the small military garrison on South Georgia withdrew in March 2001 replaced by a permanent group of scientists of the British Antarctic Survey, which also has a biological station on Bird Island; the South Sandwich Islands are uninhabited

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (overseas territory of the UK, also claimed by Argentina)

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (overseas territory of the UK, also claimed by Argentina)

Dependency status:
overseas territory of the UK, also claimed by Argentina; administered from the Falkland Islands by a commissioner, who is concurrently governor of the Falkland Islands, representing Queen ELIZABETH II

Legal system:
the laws of the UK, where applicable, apply; the senior magistrate from the Falkland Islands presides over the Magistrates Court

Flag description:
blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands coat of arms centered on the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms features a shield with a golden lion centered; the shield is supported by a fur seal on the left and a penguin on the right; a reindeer appears above the shield, and below it on a scroll is the motto LEO TERRAM PROPRIAM PROTEGAT (Let the Lion Protect its Own Land)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
conventional short form: none
abbreviation: SGSSI

  Economy Back To Top

Economy - overview:
Some fishing takes place in adjacent waters. There is a potential source of income from harvesting finfish and krill. The islands receive income from postage stamps produced in the UK, sale of fishing licenses, and harbor and landing fees from tourist vessels. Tourism from specialized cruise ships is increasing rapidly.

  Communications Back To Top

Internet country code:
.gs

Radio broadcast stations:
0 (2003)

Television broadcast stations:
0 (2003)

Telephone system:
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: coastal radiotelephone station at Grytviken

Internet hosts:
196 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:
Grytviken

  Military Back To Top

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the UK

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
Argentina, which claims the islands in its constitution and briefly occupied them by force in 1982, agreed in 1995 to no longer seek settlement by force

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