Belgian Antarctic Expedition

Belgian Antarctic Expedition

Belgian Antarctic Expedition

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The Belgian Antarctic Expedition (BelgAE) of 1897 to 1899, named after its expedition vessel Belgica, was the first expedition to winter in the Antarctic region.

Preparation and Surveying

In 1896, after a period of intensive lobbying, Adrien de Gerlache purchased the Norwegian-built whaling ship Patria, which, following an extensive refit, he renamed as the 'Belgica'. De Gerlache had worked together with the Geographical Society of Brussels to organise a national subscription, but was only possible to outfit his expedition after the Belgian government voted in favor of two large subsidies, making it a state-supported undertaking.A. Cabay, 'The funding of the Belgian Antarctic expedition 1897-1899' in: Decleir, H. en C. De Broyer ed., The Belgica expedition centennial: perspectives on Antarctic science and history (Brussels 2001) 83-92. With a multinational crew, which included Roald Amundsen, Frederick Cook and Henryk Arctowski, they set sail from Antwerp on 16 August 1897.

After leaving Antwerp, the expedition visited Madeira, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo. The Belgica was especially received enthusiastically in Rio, where a large Belgian community lived. But, the Brazilians were also very much interested in the Belgian scientific undertaking. The Historical and Geographical Society of Rio held a special meeting where the scientists and officers of the expedition were offered membership.A. de Gerlache de Gomery, Fifteen months in the......
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