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"No matter how much forethought may be exercised these thoughts have never so strongly suggested themselves as at this time when we find ourselves in the broad Atlantic with our ship's trial pointed at the North Star and every revolution of our propeller speeding us nearer our inhospitable destination and further from home and friends. We retire at a late hour to be lulled to sleep by the motion of the ship, which has not yet become unpleasant, and dream of icebergs and polar bears." - Sergeant George Rice
It is the dreamland of most children in Europe and the Americas, and the mysterious home of the mythical Santa Claus, his devoted wife Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and the many elves who make Christmas toys each year. In many ways, the North Pole is the first geographical location many kids learn - if only because children over the age of three can manage to tell any interested adult that Santa Claus lives there. In reality, of course, the North Pole proved to be as elusive for many brave explorers as jolly old Santa has been for children who wait up at night by the chimney.
The biggest problem, of course, is the North Pole's unforgiving location, far from sunshine or any sort of natural warmth. Another problem, one that would only became obvious in the 20th Century, was that it is located not on any piece of stable land but in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, usually covered by ever shifting ice floes. Finally, without modern technological advances, it was nearly impossible to tell when one had actually reached the planet's northernmost spot.