Antarctica is Earth 's southern most continent , overlying the South Pole . It is situated in the , Southern hemisphere almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.4 million km² (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Eurasia , Africa, North America, and South America. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice, which averages at least 1.6 kilometers (1.0 mi) in thickness.On average, Antarctica is the coldest, driest and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Since there is little precipitation , except at the coasts, the interior of the continent is technically the largest desert in the world. There are no permanent human residents. Only cold-adapted plants and animals survive there, including ,fur seals , mosses,lichen , and many types of algae.
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