Queen Elizabeth Land

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Glacier in the Pensacola Mountains of Queen Elizabeth Land

Queen Elizabeth Land is part of the British Antarctic Territory on the continent of Antarctica, defined as follows:

Queen Elizabeth Land is bounded:
  • on the North side by the Ronne and Filchner ice shelves,
  • to the North East by Coats Land,
  • on the East by Dronning Maud Land (the Norwegian Antarctic Territory) and
  • extending on the West side to a line between the South Pole and Rutford Ice Stream, east of Constellation Inlet.[1]

Queen Elizabeth Land is around 169,000 square miles, making up just under a third of the whole land mass of the British Antarctic Territory. It is almost twice the size of the UK, which stands at 94,000 square miles.[1]


This part of the territory was unnamed until 18 December 2012, when it was given a name in honour of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012, celebrating 60 years of Her Majesty's reign. The name was announced during Her Majesty's visit to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on that day; her last official engagment for the Jubilee.

The United Kingdom claimed territory in Antarctica in 1908, and the British Antarctic Territory was created as a discrete territory in 1962 during Her Majesty's reign, which has thus extended over the whole lifetime of the territory so far and over 60 of the 104 years since this part of the Antarctic was annexed.

Map of Queen Elizabeth Land


Queen Elizabeth Land is bleak, icebound territory. In the north, approaching the coast of the Weddell Sea, are the Pensacola Mountains; a series of mountain ranges with steep-cut peaks. From these mountains glaciers reach across the land to feed the Ronne Ice Shelf and Filchner Ice Shelf, either side of Berkner Island

In the west, Queen Elizabeth Land includes a stretch of the Transantarctic Mountains, which extend to form the Antarctic Peninsula. Away from the mountains, the plain stretches away all the way to the south all the way to the South Pole. It is across this land that Scott and Amundsen, invisible to each other, raced for the South Pole in 1912.

The coast is almost invisible as the ice stretches out in vast shelves on the sea, but by the coast are several mountain ranges, principally those of the Pensacola group but with others to the northeast and the foothills of the Transantarctic Mountains to the west, where Queen Elizabeth Land borders Palmer Land.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Press Release: Queen Elizabeth Land - Foreign and Commonwealth Office