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Where are the Sandwich Islands, anyway?

After the UK government announced the 12 countries on its green travel list, many people have been left wondering: where is South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, anyway?

Not to be confused with the popular holiday spot Georgia at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, or even the south-eastern American state of Georgia, SGSSI (a mouthful even when abbreviated) is a remote British territory in the South Atlantic.

Located between South America and Antarctica, SGSSI has won a place on England’s green list of destinations that are safe to travel to and, critically, return from without the need to quarantine, but it’s largely uninhabited.

READ: The 12 countries on England’s travel green 

Though spectacularly beautiful, SGSSI is inhospitable much of the year with a harsh climate and mountainous terrain. Accessible by sea; most people visit while on Antarctic expeditions and cruises, which mainly run from November to February.

Over the last century, sealing, whaling and scientific research have been the main human activities here, paused by wars – first, World War II, and then the Falklands War. Without a permanent native population, wildlife has thrived. Seal, penguin and seabird sightings are the main attraction. There’s also a museum.

Established in 1991, South Georgia Museum is situated in Grytviken inside a former whaling station. It houses a collection of curiosities pertinent to the area, including a humpback whale foetus, whale ear bones brightly painted in the likeness of local workers (a tradition of the territory) and Captain Frank Worsley’s 1916 almanac of nautical data, among other things.

The museum houses a collection of curiosities pertinent to the area, including a humpback whale foetus

There isn’t any visitor accommodation ashore, so South Georgia isn’t a suitable bridging destination for those wishing to travel to England without facing an expensive 10-day quarantine at an airport hotel. Tourists aren’t currently permitted to visit the nearby Falkland Islands either, and restrictions also apply to cruise passengers.

For more information, visit https://www.gov.gs/visitors/how-to-visit/

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