U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Antarctic Names

The Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names is charged with selecting commemorative names for recommendation to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for formal recognition by the United States.

The problem of geographic nomenclature in Antarctica differs from that of any land area of comparable size. Antarctica has no permanent settlements. Even in the stations continuously occupied for a number of years, the personnel are rotated. The continent has been visited and explored by the representatives of many nations, who, by their heroic efforts to broaden man's knowledge of this land of ice and snow, have fully demonstrated the international nature of the world of science. Most major features of Antarctica have been discovered and mapped, but a vast number of secondary features continue to be only partially delineated and remain unnamed.

The following statement of policy guides the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names in deciding individual cases. It should be helpful also to those persons proposing names for natural features in Antarctica. Decisions on Antarctic names are based on priority of application, appropriateness, and the extent to which usage has become established. The nationality of the honoree is not a factor in the consideration of personal names. The grouping of natural features into three orders of magnitude, with corresponding categories of persons according to the type of contribution which they have made, is intended to provide the greatest possible objectivity in determining the appropriateness of a name.

Because Antarctica has no history of permanent settlement, and because the continent has been unveiled through the efforts of explorers, scientists, and others, the Board has found it practical to apply the names of such persons to Antarctic natural features. The requirements for naming features, coupled with the availability of names of deserving people, further justify this practice. It does not, however, preclude the use of other than personal names. Nonpersonal names are discussed below.

The names of Antarctic buildings, facilities, stations and other installations, not being natural features, do not fall within the purview of the Board. Such names, though not included as main entries in the decision list, are significant in the overall nomenclature and do occur frequently in the text of decisions.




BGN Executive Secretary, Antarctic Names