Salisbury Plain, South Georgia Island, Antarctica
GPS: -54.064887689458, -37.305908715831
Facing one of the harshest climates on earth, Salisbury Plain is an isolated region south of the Atlantic Ocean. It is located not far from the Antarctic Peninsula, the southernmost continent in the world (it is also nicknamed the White Continent). Salisbury Plain is more precisely located on the north coast of the island of South Georgia, a British Overseas Territory 1,500 kilometres east of the Falkland Islands and over 2,000 kilometres from the “Tierra del Fuego” of Ushuaia (Argentina). With its almost inhuman living conditions, this polar transition area is one of the most isolated places on the planet and protects one of the richest environments in terms of biodiversity.
The archipelago of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands was discovered by the English merchant Anthony de la Roché and the British navigator James Cook in the 17th and 18th centuries. At the beginning of the 20th century, whaling stations were set up and created an industry for hunting whales, seals and sperm whales to produce oil (used in particular for public lighting in the cities of the first industrialized country). Cetacean populations are dangerously declining and this commercial practice is finally banned in 1965. As for the hunting of sub-Antarctic fur seals, it was abolished in 1912, otherwise the species would certainly no longer exist today. Since 1833, Argentina has claimed possession of these southern lands occupied by the Spanish and then the British. At the head of the Argentinean country, a military junta led by Leopoldo Galtieri decided to invade the Falkland Islands in 1982. The leader causes a rupture in diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom which turns to the Falklands War. This quickly ended with the reconquest of the Falkland Islands by Great Britain, then governed by Margaret Thatcher, precipitating the fall of the Argentine dictatorship a few months later. Despite everything, tensions still remain around the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands between these two countries.
Every year about 2,000 people go on expeditions to Salisbury Plain, a remarkable natural site made up of two enormous glaciers (Grace and Lucas). This coastal plain, with its constant flow of animals, is the permanent residence of several tens of thousands of king penguins (the second largest penguin species in the world after the emperor penguin). Long preserved from human activity, this southern region is also a breeding and nesting ground for many varieties of birds and marine mammals.