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The 10 most pristine places on Earth

April 25, 2011, 7:42 p.m.
Antarctica

Photo: Robin E. Bell/Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory

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Antarctica

It's not a country, but it is a continent – and Antarctica is a truly untouched place. The only continent never to be settled by humans, 96 percent of the island is covered with ice, which averages more than a mile (1.6 km) thick. The number of people conducting and supporting scientific research and other work on the continent and its nearby islands varies from about 1,000 in winter to about 5,000 in the summer. Penguins, whales, seals and seabirds all use the waters around Antarctica as feeding grounds — though the coldest place on Earth makes a rugged home for humans, it is still an important place for the rest of Earth's inhabitants. Pictured is the view of ice surface looking toward Gamburtsev mountains and Dome A.