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The first sightings of the islands and straights surrounding the Antarctic began in 1519 but the first true sighting was in 1820 by a Russian named Fabian Gottlieb von Bellinghausen. This was followed the next year by the first landing on the continent by American John Davis.

In 1902 the first expedition to reach the South Pole is begun by Robert F. Scott, Edward Wilson and Ernest Shackleton. They head south from McMurdo Sound across the Ross Ice Shelf but after two months they are forced to turn back suffering from snow blindness and scurvy.

After numerous more failed attempts the pole is finally reached in 1977 by Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his four team members. Scott who was racing Amundsen died after reaching the pole and discovering he had been beaten.

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