History of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

History Of South Georgia And The South Sandwich Islands

History of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

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The history of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is relatively recent. When European explorers found the islands, they were uninhabited, and their hostile climate, mountainous terrain, and remoteness made subsequent settlement difficult. Due to these setbacks, human activity in the islands has largely consisted of sealing, whaling, and scientific surveys and research, interrupted by World War II and the Falklands War.

Sixteenth to nineteenth century

The South Atlantic island of South Georgia, situated south of the Antarctic Convergence, was the first Antarctic territory ever discovered.

Popular belief holds it that Amerigo Vespucci might have sighted South Georgia during one of his much publicised voyages. While sailing in the South Atlantic to 52° south latitude (Vespucci's own estimate), in April 1502 they allegedly encountered a high, gloomy and rough land where human life was rendered impossible by severe cold ― a description seemingly fitting South Georgia. However, that belief is refuted by analysis of Vespucci's records. Samuel E. Morison. The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages AD 1492-1616. Oxford University Press, 1974. p. 282. ISBN 9780195018233

Another persistent misconception is that of South Georgia being the mythical Pepys Island reportedly discovered by the English buccaneer William Cowley in December 1683. This is wide off mark as according to Cowley's diary, after leaving the coast of Brazil he...
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