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Although myths and speculation about a Terra Australis ("Southern Land") date back to antiquity, the first confirmed sighting of the continent is commonly accepted to have occurred in 1820 by the Russian expedition of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev. The continent, however, remained largely neglected for the rest of the 19th century because of its hostile environment, lack of resources, and isolation. The first formal use of the name "Antarctica" as a continental name in the 1890s is attributed to the Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew.
The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 by twelve countries. The treaty prohibits military activities and mineral mining, supports scientific research, and protects the continent's ecozone. Ongoing experiments were conducted by scientists of many nationalities and with various research interests, until the coming of Doomsday.
The entire continent was spared from direct nuclear attack due to its lack of habitation. Scarcely 1000 people inhabited the continent, all in scattered research stations. However, the continent was still devastated. Without resupply or means of escape, the research stations generally died out within the first year. The few survivors were force to resort to cannibalism to survive. Many of the fishing fleets attempted to return to their home countries, but not all were successful. A large group of Russian ships stayed in Antarctica, believing that the rest of the world had been destroyed.
Aftermath and Restructuring
Almost all Antarctic residents had starved to death within the first year. Most of those who remained were centered on Siple Island, Marie Byrd Land. Antarctica's minimal infrastructure was spared, but it made no difference in the survival of it's human population. With the merger of Australia and New Zealand into the ANZC, their claims also merged, making it the largest claim on the continent. New Britain, the United American Republic, Norway and Chile also claim parts of the continent, and have built small research stations to enforce their claims.