- the land exploration of Antarctica is recent, most of it being accomplished during the twentieth century.
- By mid-century, permanent stations were being established and planning was underway for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1957-58, the first substantial multi-nation research program in Antarctica.
- The outstanding success of the IGY led these nations to agree that peaceful scientific cooperation.
- The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 by the twelve nations that had been active during the IGY (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and USSR).
- The Treaty, which applies to the area south of 60° South latitude, is surprisingly short, but remarkably effective.
- The Treaty has 52 signatories, 28 Consultative.
Conventions such as the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (1972), and Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980) are appended to this treaty for protection.