Often when making a big move, something gets left behind. For most, it’s just the living space they were utilizing. Those moving to one town in Antarctica will be leaving behind just a little bit more.
Villas Las Estrellas, one of two civilian settlements in the frozen continent that enables its residents to live for years instead of weeks or months, requires prospective residents to have their appendix removed before they can consider settling there.
The outpost, located in Chile’s Frei base on King George Island, has a maximum of 100 inhabitants due to its small size. It’s predominantly populated with researchers and military personnel, but those individuals tend to bring their entire families. The small settlement consists of a post office, a small school, a bank and other rudimentary facilities.
Residents being without their appendix isn’t something that’s new or unjustified for those living there. The Mirror reports that the nearest hospital is 625 miles away from the northernmost tip of the island, so naturally anyone suffering from appendicitis would be in for a really bad time, as the affliction requires immediate surgery to prevent it from becoming life-threatening. Notably, residents are also discouraged from getting pregnant during their stay for similar reasons.
With temperatures having the potential to plummet to -100 degrees Fahrenheit, citizens are required to stay indoors or risk freezing to death. Sergio Cubillos, the Chilean commander of the local air force base, noted that “[they] could not leave [their] house for weeks” this past winter. This is the main reason people tend to reside in the colony only during the summer when mercury hits a “balmy” 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Dogs are also banned from the island to prevent any transmissions of disease to the local wildlife.
One of the main appeals of the Villas Las Estrellas is its penguins, which are famously gregarious due to their protected status. Additionally, ski and snowmobile expeditions are welcomed as well as travel to nearby Bellingshausen to learn about polar auroras and glaciology, Atlas Obscura reported. And fret not internet-loving reader – internet access is available, although it’s reserved for the school’s three computers.