General issues: British colony 1963-1981, British dependent territory 1981-2002, British overseas territory 2002-Present
Country name on general issues: British Antarctic Territory
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1963-1971, 1 Pound = 100 Pence 1971-Present
Population: No permanent population – a fluctuating number scientific and support staff resides in the territory.
Political history British Antarctic Territory
The British Antarctic Territory is located in Antarctica. The Territory comprises the South Orkney Islands, the South Shetland Islands and a sector of Antarctica including Graham Land. The first documented sightings of, and British claims on, these territories date from the early 19th century. The British officially annex the territories in 1908 as part of a larger claim that also included South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The territories thus claimed were administered as dependencies from the Falkland Islands. The British Antarctic Territory, as such, was detached from the Falkland Islands in 1962 as a consequence of the Antarctic Treaty signed by Great Britain in 1959, effective 1961, that pertains to the ice shelves, islands and mainland south of the 60th degree of south latitude. The treaty sets aside the Antarctic as a scientific preserve and stipulates that a presence in the Antarctic does not constitute a basis for a claim to de jure sovereignty. The British Antarctic Territory is understood to comprise ‘all islands and territories whatsoever’ between the 20th degree of west longitude and the 80th degree of west longitude which are situated south of the 60th degree of south latitude. Technically, the British Antarctic Territory was established in 1962 as a British colony to become a British dependent territory in 1981 and a British overseas territory in 2002.
As with all claims to territories in the Antarctic, the claim to the British Antarctic Territory is not widely recognized internationally – only Australia, France, New Zealand and Norway recognize the British claim. The British claim overlaps with claims made by Argentina and Chili.
The British Antarctic Territory has never had a permanent population. The first scientific station in the current British Antarctic Territory was set up in 1903 on the South Orkney Islands. As per 2009, the Territory accommodates 27 permanent stations operated by a range of different nations. The highest concentration of stations in all of the Antarctic – a total of 16 stations – is found on the South Shetland Islands – these being closest to the South American mainland. The main tourist destination of the Antarctic is also located in the British Antarctic Territory at Port Lockroy – a former British station now a museum.
Postal history British Antarctic Territory
The first post office to be opened in the current British Antarctic Territory was opened on the South Shetland Islands in 1912. Stamps of the Falkland Islands were used until 1944 when stamps were issued for the individual Falkland Dependencies including Graham Land, the South Orkneys and the South Shetland Islands. In 1946, these were superseded by the joint issues for the Falkland Dependencies. From 1963, stamps have been issued for the Territory. The stamps have themes related to life in the Arctic. The Territory also takes part in some of the British omnibus issues. Stamps are released to all British permanent and summer stations in the Territory. The main point of sale is Port Lockroy. After release in the British Antarctic Territory the stamps are also available in Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands and in Great Britain. The stamps are valid for postal use only in the British Antarctic Territory.