What Are The Origins Of The Names Arctic And Antarctica?

Penguins inhabit the icy landscape of Antarctica.

Antarctica is known to be the most southern continent on earth located in the Antarctic region. It is located in the south region of the Antarctic Circle. Geographically, it contains the South Pole and is enclosed by the southern ocean. On the other hand, Arctic contrasts Antarctica since it is situated on the farthest north region of the earth, particularly on the north of the Arctic Circle. The Arctic is inclusive of some parts of countries like Northern Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Russia, Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

Origin of the Name "Arctic"

The name arctic originates from the word 'arktos' which is a Greek word that means bear. The name originates from ursa major and ursa minor constellations that represent the great and little bear respectively. They are seen in the northern hemisphere where they point the north star, hence the name Arctic.

Geography of the Arctic

The Arctic region covers approximately 14.5 million square kilometers, and it is classified as a high latitude where temperatures never go above 10 degrees Celsius. The Arctic is a distinctive region in relation to the ecosystem of the earth since the people from the region have adapted to the extreme weather conditions of the north and engage in fishing and hunting. The Arctic is considered to bare no trees but includes organisms such as shrubs, moss, and lichen that grow on the ground, a condition referred to as tundra. The ground is permanently frozen under the topsoil (permafrost condition). This situation allows the development of bogs, and marshes, which are good for growing berry shrubs. Apart from the plants growing in the Arctic region, some animals survive in the arctic including lemmings, wolverines, and polar bears just to mention a few.

Origin of the Name "Antarctica"

Antarctica means 'no bears'. It is true that there are no bears in Antarctica, but the name comes from a Roman version of the Greek word that is antarktike. “Anti-” is commonly a synonym for the opposite in English as well as in Greek. Thus, Antarctica means opposite of Arctic land, “Anti-” plus the Arctic which forms a compound word. Before Antarctica officially acquired its name, the phrase was used to describe places that contrasted the north. For instance, in the 16th century, the colony that was built by the French was named France Antarctique, and Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew used it officially around the 1890’s.

Geography of Antarctica

Antarctica is described as the fifth largest continent with an area of 14 million square kilometers, but 98% is known to be covered with ice. It has a small population, and there was no evidence of human settlement before the nineteenth century, but scientists had a belief that there existed a terra australlis (southern land) in the south of the globe to balance the North Pole. Antarctica is characterized as the driest, coldest, and windiest continent. Organisms that adapt to the weather conditions of Antarctica include algae, fungi, bacteria, while animals that inhabit the region include penguins, seals, and tardigrades.


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