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King George Island, Antarctica
King George Island is one of the South Shetland Islands. It is located close to the Northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Cape Hoorn (South America) is about 1200 km to the North. The island is dominated by a huge ice cap. More than 90% of the island are glaciated.
The ice-free areas and coastal zones of the island carry a diverse plant and animal life. Penguins, seals, petrels and a comparable rich vegetation make the island's natural environment not only a favourite for tourist cruises.
King George Island has also the greatest concentration of multinational research activities in Antarctica. Human activities on the island are based on nine permanent stations and an airstrip maintained by the Chilean airforce.
Human activities on King George Island started as early as 1819 with the first sealers arriving. After a few years the fur seal and sea elephant populations were almost completely extinguished on the island. At the beginning of the twentieth century whalers used the island's natural harbours and sheltered beaches and on many of these still a lot of whale bones can be found. Today again the manifold human activities lead to severe impacts on the vulnerable ecosystems of the island. Co-ordinated environmental management is essential for conservation of the sensitive ecosystems.
There are numerous international research stations on this island including the Polish Arctowski Station and the Brazilian Ferraz Station Admiralty Bay. On the western side there are Russian, Chilean, Chinese, Korean, and Uruguayan stations. A visit to one or more stations is often possible with an opportunity to meet the researchers.
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