Captain Cook on HMS Resolution makes the first claim to what would become the British Antarctic Territories. He lands in Possession Bay on 17 January, and claims the island for His Britannic Majesty King George III.
The first British sealing vessel Lord Hawkesbury collects a full cargo of fur seal pelts. The first of many American sealing ships, Polly and Nancy, soon follow and the industry rapidly expands.
The first land-based scientific expedition arrives as part of the International Polar Year. Scientists travel on Moltke, the first steam-powered ship to visit the island. A station is set up with a telegraph system at Moltke Harbour.
Norwegian Captain C. A. Larsen establishes a whaling station at Grytviken. This is the beginning of the modern Antarctic whaling industry and of permanent human occupation. Six more stations follow within the next ten years.
New British Letters Patent consolidate earlier Antarctic territorial claims. They include South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and Graham Land as part of the Falkland Island Dependencies and are governed from Stanley, Falkland Islands.
James Innes Wilson is appointed first Magistrate of South Georgia and is resident at Grytviken. A post office opens and the first official mails despatched. A census taken in December identifies 720 people; 93% are Scandinavian.
The church at Grytviken is built. It was designed by architect Adalbert Kielland and prefabricated in Norway. It is consecrated on Christmas Day.
Endurance, with Sir Ernest Shackleton and 27 men arrives at Grytviken. Due to bad weather, they spend a month in South Georgia before leaving on their ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
WWI increases demand for whale oil and the price of oil increases four-fold. The oil is used to make soap, lubricants, glycerol to make explosives and also used to process jute to make fabric for sandbags.
Sailing 1450 km from Elephant Island in the lifeboat James Caird, Sir Ernest Shackleton and five men reach King Haakon Bay. Shackleton, Tom Crean and Frank Worsley walk over the unmapped mountains to the whaling station at Stromness.
While at anchor at Grytviken, Sir Ernest Shackleton dies aboard Quest and is later buried in the whalers’ cemetery. A memorial cross built by his comrades, still stands on Hope Point.
Factory ship SS Lancing is in operation. The first use of an inbuilt slipway increases efficiency and changes the nature of the whaling industry. Whale stocks are decimated leading to the decline of South Georgia’s shore-based stations.
The Discovery Investigations begin with an oceanographic voyage and whale marking. Hydrographic surveys and cruises in the Southern Ocean last until 1951. Discovery House is built at King Edward Point as a laboratory and accommodation for the scientists.
During WWII whaling stations close as the whale catchers are requisitioned for service. After the war, demand for whale oil grows for edible fats. Three shore stations and nine factory ships operate with 93 whale catchers. They take 13,387 whales.
The South Georgia Surveys, led by Duncan Carse, map the interior landmass of South Georgia. Topographic and geological investigations result in the production of the first complete map which was still in use until recently.
Grytviken whaling station closes. The land-based whaling industry ends on South Georgia, with the closure of the last working factory at Leith Station in 1965. A total of 175,250 whales had been killed in the waters around South Georgia since 1904.
The Falkland Island Dependencies Magistrate and his support staff leave South Georgia. The British Antarctic Survey establishes a permanent scientific station at King Edward Point and the Base Commander becomes the Magistrate.
The South Georgia Government adopts the Convention of the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. The convention’s focus is on conservation of Antarctic marine living resources. Its adoption is crucial to the preservation of fish stocks.
South Georgia is invaded by Argentine troops. British Antarctic Survey personnel are taken prisoner along with 22 Royal Marines at King Edward Point. The occupation lasts for 22 days until British forces liberate the island.
The designation Falkland Island Dependencies is abolished and South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands become a separate British Overseas Territory.
A whaling museum is established by Nigel Bonner to preserve the heritage of the industry. Six small cruise ships visit the island in the 1992-93 summer season.The museum later expands into the South Georgia Museum.
The South Georgia Government declares a 200 nautical miles zone around the islands. Permits, issued by a Marine Officer, are required before fishing may take place in this area, and it is regularly patrolled to prevent illegal fishing.
The British Antarctic Survey build a new scientific station at King Edward Point and operate it on behalf of the Government. The British military garrison is withdrawn from the island and many of the old buildings are removed.
A major environmental clean-up at Grytviken begins. This includes the removal of asbestos, loose tin sheets, and unstable buildings. Oils are removed from the whale catchers Albatross, Dias and Petrel and they are hauled ashore
Following the removal of invasive reindeer by the Government in 2011, and a decade-long project by the South Georgia Heritage Trust to eradicate invasive rodents, South Georgia is declared rat free. The projects are major contributions to the ongoing ecological recovery of South Georgia.