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Australian Antarctic Territory

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The Australian Antarctic Territory (AAT) is a part of Antarctica. It was claimed by the United Kingdom and placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1933. It is the largest territory of Antarctica claimed by any nation. Since the Antarctic Treaty came into force in 1961, Article 1 of which states "The treaty does not recognize, dispute, nor establish territorial sovereignty claims; no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force", most countries do not recognise territorial claims in Antarctica.

Area

AAT consists of all the islands and territory south of 60°S and between 45°E and 160°E, except for Adélie Land (136°E to 142°E), which divides the territory into Western AAT (the larger portion) and Eastern AAT. It is bounded by Queen Maud Land in the West and by Ross Dependency in the East. The area is estimated at 5,896,500 km².
The territory is inhabited by the staff of research stations. The Australian Antarctic Division administers the area primarily by maintaining three year-round stations (Mawson, Davis and Casey), which support various research projects.

History

The United Kingdom first claimed Victoria Land on 9 January 1841 and then claimed Enderby Land in 1930. In 1933, a British imperial order transferred territory south of 60° S and between meridians 160° E and 45° E to Australia.

That part of His Majesty's dominions in the Antarctic Seas which comprises all the islands and territories other than Adélie Land which are situated south of the 60th degree of South Latitude and lying between the 160th degree of East Longitude and the 45th degree of East Longitude is hereby placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Australian Antarctic Territory Acceptance Act 1933
That part of the territory in the Antarctic seas which comprises all the islands and territories, other than Adelie Land, situated south of the 60th degree south latitude and lying between the 160th degree east longitude and the 45th degree east longitude, is hereby declared to be accepted by the Commonwealth as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, by the name of the Australian Antarctic Territory.

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The borders with Adélie Land were fixed definitively in 1938. In 1947, Britain transferred Heard Island and McDonald Islands to the territory. On 13 February 1954, Mawson Station was established as the first Australian station on the continent proper.

 

 

Recognition of Australian sovereignty

Australia's claim to sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory is recognised by the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and Norway. Japan does not recognise this claim, and Japan does not recognise the Australian claim to the Australian Antarctic territorial waters in which Japanese ships conduct whaling.

Mining in Antarctica

For the past 20 years, Australia has been in debate on whether or not to allow mining on the mineral rich continent. Several mining proposals have been taken to the ballot, and all have been defeated.
On the 9 August 2011, influential Australian think-tank, the Lowy Institute, published a report warning Canberra against complacency when it comes to its claim. The global treaty banning resource exploitation becomes reviewable in 2041, and some states may then decide to withdraw from it considering the continent's mineral deposits. These include coal seams, manganese, iron and uranium, while Antarctica's forecast oil reserves are estimated as among the largest in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Lowy's national security fellow Ellie Fogarty said in the paper that Australia cannot adequately patrol its claim, lacking the kind of ski-planes it needs to reach some areas. It also lacks an ice-breaking ship in the region.

Postage stamps

Australia issues postage stamps for the Australian Antarctic Territory. The first issues came in 1957, and sporadically thereafter, settling into a pattern of an annual issue by the 1990s. All have been Antarctic-themed, and all are valid for postage in Australia and its territories, including Antarctica.

 

 

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