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Early activities at the South Pole were related to exploration and discovery. Today, most activities at the South Pole are for scientific research or are in support of science.

Non-governmental organizations and individuals also visit the Pole on expeditions or as tourists. Over the five-year period between 2006-11, an average of approximately 190 people per season visited the South Pole on private expeditions. The highest number to date was recorded in 2011-12 with 495 visitors, which is almost double the previous high of 266 recorded in 2010-11. This peak was driven by a surge of interest in the South Pole surrounding the centennial years of Amundsen's and Scott's expeditions.

In addition, the South Pole attracts interest from the media and the arts, while the historic and scientific significance of the region continues to be of great fascination for education.