The town of no appendices

Before you move into Villa Las Estrellas you must have your appendix removed.

Villa Las Estrellas
Chikomario / Public domain

Remember that time Argentina airlifted a pregnant woman to Antarctica so that her child could be a the first native Antarctican? She was flown to Esperanza Base, technically one of only two civilian settlements in the continent. The other settlement is Villa Las Estrellas.

Part of Chile, this village of 80 (winter) to 150 (summer) people is perched on King George Island at the end of the Antarctic Peninsula. The whole area is a melange of competing territorial claims – the peninsula, for example, has been known variously as O’Higgins Land, Tierra de San Martin, Palmer Peninsula, and Graham Land depending on which country is doing the naming. Having a civilian settlement in the area is a big boon for Chile in case the currently cool competing territorial claims get lively.

It has a post office, a library, a church, and a school. Its hospital is pretty basic, which is where the appendix comes in. Should someone get appendicitis the nearest fully equipped hospital surgery is a long way away – the far-south Chilean city Punta Arenas is more than twelve hundred kilometres to the north, for example. Simply put, having an appendix is just too much of a risk. So, if you want to live in Villa Las Estrellas you have to have an appendectomy first.

Sounds like a lovely place. What’s the weather like? Well…

When BBC Future visited in January, the horizontal hailstones of an Antarctic summer day struck the face straight out of the plane door.


[Thanks to an anonymous reader for suggesting this topic.]

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