Queen Elizabeth Land

Queen Elizabeth Land is portion of mainland Antarctica named by the government of the United Kingdom and claimed as part of the British Antarctic Territory, which is the largest of the 14 British Overseas Territories. Situated south of Weddell Sea and between longitudes 20°W and 80°W, stretching from Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole.[1] That territory was unnamed until 2012, though most of it was unofficially known as Edith Ronne Land in 1947–68[2] and includes areas claimed by the United Kingdom, Chile and Argentina.

Map of Queen Elizabeth Land (shaded)
Queen Elizabeth Land
Queen Elizabeth Land
Location of Queen Elizabeth Land in Antarctica
Coordinates: 84°S 49°W
  Total437,000 km2 (169,000 sq mi)


The glacier flowing from the Pensacola Mountains onto the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf

On the occasion of a visit by Queen Elizabeth II to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on 18 December 2012, it was announced there that a 437,000-square-kilometre (169,000 sq mi) area of the British Antarctic Territory had been named Queen Elizabeth Land after The Queen.[3] The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, said that the naming was "a fitting tribute at the end of Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee year".[3]

Queen Elizabeth Land is nearly twice the size of the United Kingdom[3] and is essentially a triangular segment of Antarctica, with one vertex at the South Pole. It is bounded on the North side by the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, to the North East by Coats Land, on the East by Queen Maud Land and extending on the West side to a line between the South Pole and Rutford Ice Stream, east of Constellation Inlet.[4][5][6] The Pensacola Mountains, discovered in January 1956, run for some 450 km (280 mi) along a north-east to south-west line along the centre of the territory.[7] The area's name will be included on all British maps.[8]


Argentina, whose Argentine Antarctica claim overlaps with the British Antarctic Territory, criticised the naming calling it a "systematic attack" and described it as "provocation" after recent tensions over Argentina's claim to the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory.[9]

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement regarding the naming, where they reminded that Russia was one of the original parties to the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 and calling for the full, unconditional and responsible compliance by all State parties with its provisions (which included the UK). According to the Russians, "no acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim to territorial in Antarctica and do not create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica".[10]

See also


  1. Queen Elizabeth Land. SCAR Composite Antarctic Gazetteer.
  2. Ronne Ice Shelf. USGS Geographic Names Information System
  3. "UK to name part of Antarctica Queen Elizabeth Land". BBC News. BBC. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  4. Queen Elizabeth Land, Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 19 December 2012
  5. Rayner, Gordon (18 December 2012). "Part of Antarctica named 'Queen Elizabeth Land' as gift for Diamond Jubilee". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  6. Calder, Simon (18 December 2012). "So where exactly is Queen Elizabeth Land?". The Independent. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
  7. "Pensacola Mountains". Antarctica Detail. U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  8. "Foreign Office risks diplomatic row with Argentina by naming part of Antarctica after the Queen". Telegraph. 18 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  9. Hannah Strange (20 December 2012). "Argentina fury as Britain names disputed Antarctic territory 'Queen Elizabeth Land'". The Times. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  10. "Russia issues statement on Queen Elizabeth Land". New Europe Online. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013.