Which Country is Closest to Antarctica? The Answer Surprised Me!

Have you ever thought of Antarctica? Ever wonder which country in the world is closest to Antarctica? No? Never? Take a guess anyway. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Pic of Antarctica by NASA

Antarctica (the one where Santa isn’t from, the one with the South Pole) is the coldest continent in the world. Temperatures there can drop to as low as 89 degrees Celcius below zero!

It’s home to between 1000 and 5000 scientists from 28 different countries who stay at one of the 70+ research stations in Antarctica during different periods of the year to conduct experiments and scientific research.

What do they study? Meteorites, wildlife, the state of glaciers, the effects of climate change, pretty much anything they feel is worth risking the low temperatures for. #salute

Scientists recovering a meteorite in Antartica (Pic by NASA)

It has two seasons, sunny when the sun is perpetually in the sky and winter when the sun is not. These seasons are six months apart.

Oh yeah, back to the question at hand. So, the country that is the closest to Antarctica is… Chile and Argentina!

Antarctica is less than 1000 km away from South America, tip to tip.

What? You cheated. You asked which country, not which countries were closest to Antarctica.”

Hey, it is what it is. Here’s a close up of what’s underneath that red pin.

To the left of the black border line is Chile, to the right, Argentina. Technically, Chile is the country closest to Antarctica.

But wait… ever wonder how do all those scientists get to Antarctica? I did. And I found out how.

Visitors to Antarctica sail there by ship which is a two-day journey. But, if you’re more interested in sightseeing instead of scientific research, there are 6 to 18 day-long cruises that take tourists (between 50 and 200 per trip) to the Antarctica Peninsula and South Shetland Islands. Around 50,000 tourists take this more scenic route across the Drake Passage every year.

Ships sail from the city of Ushuaia, one of the southernmost cities in the world; more importantly, it is in Argentina.

Over 90% of visitors leave for Antartica from Ushuaia by ship while around 5% leave from Punta Arenas in Chile by a 2-hour chartered flight. You can get to Antarctica from November to March via these two routes.

Alternatively you can sail to Antarctica from New Zealand as well but it’s going to take you 10 days to get to Antarctica. You can also get there from Cape Town South Africa by a 9.5 hour flight but this one is a pretty exclusive and luxurious way to travel, limited to around 200 passengers per year.

Care for a trip to Antarctica, anyone?