Economy of Antarctica

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There is no economic activity in Antarctica at present, except for fishing off the coast and small-scale tourism, both based outside Antarctica. The Antarctican dollar, a souvenir item sold in the United States and Canada, is not legal tender.


Antarctic fisheries in 1998–1999 (July 1 - June 30) reported landing 119,898 tonnes. Unregulated fishing landed five to six times more than the regulated fishery, and allegedly illegal fishing in Antarctic waters in 1998 resulted in the seizure (by France and Australia) of at least eight fishing ships. See Ocean fisheries#Southern Ocean.


Small-scale tourism has existed since the 1950s. Since 1969, over 30,000 tourists have been to Antarctica.[1] A total of 10,013 tourists visited in the 1998–1999 summer, up from the 9,604 who visited the previous year. Nearly all of them were passengers on 16 commercial (nongovernmental) ships and several yachts that made 116 trips during the summer. Most tourist trips last about two weeks.

As of 2006, several ships transport people to Antarctica to visit specific scenic locations. There are also sight-seeing overflights from Australia which fly nonstop over Antarctica and return, although overflights from New Zealand stopped after the fatal crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 on Mount Erebus in late 1979.

Scientific stations

About 30 countries maintain about seventy research stations (40 year-round or permanent, and 30 summer-only) in Antarctica, with an approximate population of 4000 in summer and 1000 in winter.

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