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Antarctic Names

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

User Notice: Downloadable Files

In the future, GNIS download files will be moved to USGS ScienceBase, along with a new geodatabase that can be used with ArcMap. Until then, users can continue to download text files; see link above.

The problem of geographic nomenclature in Antarctica differs from that of any land area of comparable size and is unique in the world. Antarctica has no indigenous population so there is no history of cultural ties to geography. Human presence has a relatively short history and is often temporary. 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. There is no sovereign territory and instead the region is managed under an international agreement, the Antarctic Treaty. The Advisory Committee on Antarctic names (ACAN) follows the Antarctica policy which guides ACAN in recommending names to the BGN for formal recognition by the United States. 

To propose a name in Antarctica, please read the Antarctic Policy and submit information to