19 Astonishing Facts
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In the 1500s, people thought Antarctica existed because it balanced the Earth. It hadn't been discovered yet!


For centuries in the Western world, people believed that there had to be a great land in the southern half of the world. Some called it Terra Australis. Others referred to it as the Cold Land. And the name "Antarctica," meaning the opposite of the Arctic, was coined by Marinus Tyre in just the second century A.D.

People reasoned that there had to be a great continent at the southern end of the world to "balance" out North Africa, Asia and Europe. Aristotle even theorized about a symmetry to the earth.

In 1820, a Russian expedition first spotted Antarctica. Later, American Captain John Davis was likely the first to set foot on the ice. It would take until 1911 for man to finally reach the South Pole though. Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first to get there.

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