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Located less than 75 miles north of the Antarctic Peninsula, the South Shetland Islands have been navigated since the turn of the 17th century by whalers, seal hunters and Antarctic explorers. Most visitors to the Islands stop on King George Island, the largest island in the archipelago and the site of the first overwinter stay by humans in Antarctica. King George Island features a small airfield, used by the scientists from the many research bases in the Islands, and a permanent village, including a Russian Orthodox church and the southernmost lighthouse in the world. It is also the site of the Antarctica Marathon, which is held every spring. Visitors to the South Shetland Islands can expect to see steep icy cliffs and colonies of seals, seabirds and penguins. More remote islands include the volcanic Deception Island and the fog-shrouded Elephant Island, rounding out a uniquely Antarctic landscape.
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