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The First Russian Antarctic expedition led by Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev on the 985-ton sloop-of-war Vostok ("East") and the 530-ton support vessel Mirny ("Peaceful") reached a point within 32 km (20 mi) from Queen Maud's Land and recorded the sight of an ice shelf at which became known as the Fimbul ice shelf.This happened three days before Bransfield sighted land, and ten months before Palmer did so in November 1820.Douglas Mawson, who assumed the leadership of the Magnetic Pole party on their perilous return, went on to lead several expeditions until retiring in 1931.In addition, Shackleton himself and three other members of his expedition made several firsts in December 1908 – February 1909: they were the first humans to traverse the Ross Ice Shelf, the first to traverse the Transantarctic Mountains (via the Beardmore Glacier), and the first to set foot on the South Polar Plateau.Twelve countries signed the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, and thirty-eight have signed it since then.

Anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent.Even in the late 17th century, after explorers had found that South America and Australia were not part of the fabled "Antarctica", geographers believed that the continent was much larger than its actual size.Integral to the story of the origin of the name "Antarctica" is how it was not named Terra Australis—this name was given to Australia instead, and it was because of a mistake made by people who decided that a significant landmass would not be found farther south than Australia.For example, the short-lived French colony established in Brazil in the 16th century was called "France Antarctique".The first formal use of the name "Antarctica" as a continental name in the 1890s is attributed to the Scottish cartographer John George Bartholomew.

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Explorer Matthew Flinders, in particular, has been credited with popularising the transfer of the name Terra Australis to Australia.