South Shetland Islands, barren, snow-covered archipelago off N Antarctic Peninsula, W Antarctica; Livingston and King George islands are the largest. The South Shetlands were bases for sealers in the 19th cent., whalers in the early 20th cent., and also for antarctic exploration; they now have scientific bases. The South Shetlands, discovered by the British mariner William Smith in 1819, are claimed by Great Britain, Argentina, and Chile.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.