South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands History

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands History

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are two British overseas territories claimed by Argentina. The islands are administered from the Falkland Islands.

According to, South Georgia consists of: Shag Rocks, Black Rock, Clerke Rocks and Bird Island. The islands are located 1290 km southeast of the Falkland Islands. The capital is Grytviken.

The South Sandwich Islands consist of: Traversey Islands (6), Saunders I., Montagu I., Bristol I. and Southern Thule (2), all volcanic and ice-covered. The South Sandwich Islands are uninhabited. The islands are 750 km from South Georgia.

Grytviken is the only town on the islands, and apart from scientists (up to 18) at the nearby King Edward Punkt station, and some tourists, only 3 people live on the island: naval officer Pat Lurcock, his wife and their common son. Tim and Pauline Carr, who ran the South Georgia Museum for many years, no longer live on the island.

Grytviken is a popular stop for cruise ships visiting Antarctica, and tourists usually land to visit Shackleton’s tomb.


1675 – South Georgia is first discovered by the English merchant Anthony de la Roche in April.

1756 – Second sighting of the Spanish ship León, piloted by Captain Gregorio Jerez ; the island is christened ” isla de san pedro “.

1775 – Captain James Cook arrives in South Georgia on January 17 and discovers the Royal Bay. He describes a large number of seals and it intercepts the seal industry, which becomes the beginning of a bloody period in the island’s history, but at the same time also the driving force for most expeditions to Antarctica. That same year, the South Sandwich Islands are discovered.

1786-1787 – The first British sealing vessel, Lord Hawkesbury, receives a full load of sealskin.

1792-1793 – Polly and Nancy, the first of many American seal vessels, take sealskins back to the United States and China.

1819 – Russian captain Thaddeus von Bellingshausen, in command of Mirnyi and Vostok, sails along the southwest coast.

1821 – The South Orkney Islands are discovered in 1821 by two sealers, Nathaniel Brown Palmer and George Powell. The archipelago was originally named Powell’s Group and the main island was named Coronation island ( Coronation Sea ), after which the archipelago was discovered in the year of the coronation of King George IV (crowned July 19, 1821).

1823 – James Weddell visits the South Orkney Archipelago, naming it after the Scottish Orkney Islands. In addition, he renamed some of the other islands. The South Orkney Islands are almost at the same latitude south as the Orkney Islands are north, 60 ° S vs 59 ° N, respectively. Two places are named after him – the Weddell Sea and the Weddell Islands in the Falkland Islands. Weddell died in 1834 at the age of 47 in relative poverty and inattention in London. He was buried at St Clement Danes cemetery Beach.

1882-1883 – The first land-based scientific expedition establishes a station at Moltke Harbor in Royal Bay. German researchers spend 13 months on the island as part of the International Polar Year. They arrive at Moltke, on the first steam-powered ship to visit the island. The expedition creates the first telegraph system and takes the first photographs.

1904 – The only town on the archipelago, Grytviken, was established on 16 November by the Norwegian whaler Carl Anton Larsen, who was to function as a whaling station for his company. The company was successful in the beginning, but was closed down in 1966 due to over-taxation of whaling. In the period 1892-1894 he discovered islands and lands in Antarctica, and was captain of “Antarctica” on Otto Nordenskiöld’s research expedition to Antarctica. The city’s name is Swedish for “Grydebugten”, invented by the Swedish Arctic expedition, documented by the geologist Johan Gunnar Andersson, who was also on the expedition.

1912 – The administration station is established at King Edward Point with the construction of a magistrate’s residence. In 1913, a customs shed was completed and expanded the following year to include a prison. A whaling station is being built at Stromness.

1913 – The church in Grytviken is built and consecrated on Christmas Day.

1922 – British polar explorer Ernest Henry Shackleton, best known for his 1914-1916 Endurance Expedition to Antarctica, who he led, spent a month with his 27 men in South Georgia in 1914, before their fateful attempt to cross Antarctica. in 1916. Their ship ” Endurance ” was crushed by the ice, and Shackleton went to South Georgia with a small boat, where he got help. However, he had a heart attack on board his ship, Quest, on 5 January 1922 and died in Grytviken at the start of his 4th expedition to Antarctica. His grave lies to the south Grytviken, together with the whales that had died on the island.

1925 – With Captain Scott’s old ship Discovery, Discovery Investigations begins the study of whales and oceanographic studies in the Arctic Ocean. The cruise series lasts until 1951.

1951-57 – Four expeditions led by Duncan Carse map South Georgia, resulting in a huge increase in knowledge of the interior of the island. The first complete map that le low was still in use until recently.

1964 – Cessation of seal hunting, and the following year, whaling.

1982 – During the Falklands War on April 3, Grytviken is occupied by the Argentine forces, followed by a brief battle against the British Royal Marines. The visit took place between April 2 and June 14, and despite the surprise attack by the Argentines, the British recaptured the islands, which accordingly remained under British supremacy.

1985 – South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands cease to be dependent on the Falkland Islands and become a separate British overseas territory.

2001 – A small British military garrison in South Georgia is withdrawn on March 21. (present since 1982). It is being replaced by a permanent group of scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, who also have a biological station on Bird Island.

2011 – On November 27, Frank Wild’s ashes were buried next to Shackleton’s graveyard, with the inscription: ” Frank Wild 1873–1939, Shackleton’s right-hand man.”

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands History