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South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands: Where penguins have church and musem

18/05/2012
A dramatic skyline above South Georgia Island in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in Antarctica. Photo Frank Krahmer/ Corbis.

A dramatic skyline above South Georgia Island in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands in Antarctica. Photo Frank Krahmer/ Corbis.

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Grytvikken, whaling station, 1989. Photo Hannes Grobe, Alfred Wegener Institute. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1989_Grytvikken_hg.jpg

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Grytvikken, whaling station, 1989. Photo Hannes Grobe, Alfred Wegener Institute.

South Georgia in Antarctic waters with its myriads of pinguins. Photo Sascha Grabow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:South_Georgia_Photo_by_Sascha_Grabow.jpg

South Georgia in Antarctic waters with its myriads of pinguins. Deutsch: Südgeorgien im antarktischen Ozean mit seiner grossen Pinguin-‘Bevölkerung’. Photo Sascha Grabow, January 2010.

Colony of aptenodytes patagonicus. Photo User:Pismire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Colony_of_aptenodytes_patagonicus.jpg

Great colony of about 60,000 pairs of hatching King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) in Salisbury plain on South Georgia. Français : Une grande colonie de 60 000 couples de manchots royaux (Aptenodytes patagonicus) dans la plaine Salisbury en Géorgie du Sud. Deutsch: Große Kolonie (rund 60.000 Brutpaare) von Königspinguinen (Aptenodytes patagonicus) bei Salisbury Plain in Südgeorgien. This file was a candidate in Picture of the Year 2006. Photo User:Pismire.

* Hey, I think that’s our kid, 3,233rd from the left: Stunning pictures of island where penguins have created the world’s largest crèche

* Those Pesky Penguins!

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI) is a British overseas territory in the southern Atlantic Ocean.
It is a remote and inhospitable collection of islands, consisting of South Georgia and a chain of smaller islands, known as the South Sandwich Islands.
South Georgia is 167.4 kilometers (104 mi) long and 1.4 to 37 km (0.9 to 23.0 miles) wide and is by far the largest island in the territory.
The South Sandwich Islands lie about 520 kilometers (320 mi) southeast of South Georgia. The total land area of the territory is 3,903 square kilometers (1,507 sq mi).

There is no native population on the islands; the present inhabitants are the British Government Officer, Deputy Postmaster, scientists, and support staff from the British Antarctic Survey who maintain scientific bases at Bird Island and at the capital, King Edward Point, as well as museum staff at nearby Grytviken.

The United Kingdom claimed sovereignty over South Georgia in 1775 and the South Sandwich Islands in 1908. In 1908 the United Kingdom annexed both South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The territory of “South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands” was formed in 1985; previously it had been governed as part of the Falkland Islands Dependencies. Argentina claimed South Georgia in 1927 and claimed the South Sandwich Islands in 1938.

Argentina maintained a naval station, Corbeta Uruguay on Thule Island in the South Sandwich Islands, from 1976 until 1982 when it was closed by the Royal Navy.
The Argentine claim over South Georgia contributed to the 1982 Falklands War, during which Argentine forces briefly occupied the island.
Argentina continues to claim sovereignty over South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

As there are no native inhabitants, economic activity in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is limited. The territory has revenues of £3.9 million, 90% of which is derived from fishing licences (2002 figures). Other sources of revenue are the sale of postage stamps and coins, tourism and customs and harbour dues.

There are only four genuine first day cover sets from 16 March 1982 in existence. They were stamped at the South Georgia Post Office; all those in circulation were stamped elsewhere and sent out, but the only genuine ones were kept at the Post Office on South Georgia.
These four sets were removed during the Falklands War by a member of staff of the British Antarctic Survey in the few moments the Argentinians allowed them to gather their belongings. Everything else was burnt, but these four sets were saved and brought to the UK by Robert Headland, BAS.

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