Antarctica was the last continent explored, with explorers such as Peary, Amundsen, and Shackleton battling in a "Race for the Pole" in the early 20th century. British explorer Ernest Shackleton made an attempt in 1909, but fell short of the goal. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen ultimately won the "race" in 1912.

Map by National Geographic
  • On January 9, 1909, a polar exploration team led by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton reached the farthest point south ever traveled by humans. This southern location was 88 degrees, 23 minutes south longitude, 162 degrees east latitude. The team was 97 nautical miles away from the South Pole, but the Antarctic weather was too severe for them to safely go on.

    The Nimrod Expedition, named after Shackleton’s ship, was one of several trips made by explorers during the “race to the pole.” A rival expedition led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, would reach the South Pole only three years later. These Antarctic explorers mapped the last unexplored continent. They also made important discoveries about the plants and animals living in this remote region. Today, Antarctica is regularly visited by cruise ships and is home to international research stations that provide us with important data about global climate change.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    climate change Noun

    gradual changes in all the interconnected weather elements on our planet.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Earth's Changing Climate
    continent Noun

    one of the seven main land masses on Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: continent
    cruise ship Noun

    vessel transporting tourists on a trip.

    data Plural Noun

    (singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.

    exploration Noun

    study and investigation of unknown places, concepts, or issues.

    explorer Noun

    person who studies unknown areas.

    latitude Noun

    distance north or south of the Equator, measured in degrees.

    Encyclopedic Entry: latitude
    longitude Noun

    distance east or west of the prime meridian, measured in degrees.

    Encyclopedic Entry: longitude
    polar Adjective

    having to do with the North and/or South Pole.

    remote Adjective

    distant or far away.

    research station Noun

    structure or structures built for scientific study of the surrounding region, possibly including residential and lab facilities.

    South Pole Noun

    fixed point that, along with the North Pole, forms the axis on which the Earth spins.

    Encyclopedic Entry: South Pole
    weather Noun

    state of the atmosphere, including temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, and cloudiness.

    Encyclopedic Entry: weather