FACT FOOD #190


The Arctic region was discovered by Phoenician sailors more than two thousand years ago. They named the newly discovered region after a polar star which guided them to the end of the earth. The star was called “Arktos” by the Greeks. 

In Greek language, the word ‘arktos’ means ‘Bear’. And from this, another Greek word ‘arktikos’ was derived (northern of the Bear). The name hugely refers to the constellations ‘Ursa Major’ (The Great Bear), prominent in the Northern part of the celestial sphere and ‘Ursa Minor’ (The little bear), which contains ‘Pole star’ also known as ‘North star’. Hence the region ‘Arctic’ got its name through this word evolution. 

Similarly, the name ‘Antarctica’ plainly translates to ‘opposite to the Arctic’, in other words ‘opposite to the north’. The formal use of the name ‘Antarctica’ as used today is credited to the Scottish map maker John George Bartholomew in the late 1890’s.