The intent here is to present some general facts about the topic of Islands in general.


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French Polynesia consists of five great archipelagos:
the Society, Austral, Tuamotu, Gambier, and Marquesas islands.

The Society Islands are subdivided into 
the Windwards or iles du Vent 
(Tahiti, Moorea, Maiao, Tetiaroa, and Mehetia), 

the Leewards or iles Sous le Vent 
(Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, Maupiti, Tupai, Mopelia, and Bellingshausen). 

Together the 35 islands and 83 atolls of Tahiti-Polynesia covers an area as big as Europe!

Bora Bora, 260 km northwest of Tahiti , is everyone's idea of a South Pacific island. 
Dramatic basalt peaks soar 700 meters above a gorgeous, multicolored lagoon. 
Slopes and valleys blossom with hibiscus. 

Bora bora ranks among the most beautiful islands in the world. This seven-million-year-old island is made up of a 10-km-long main island, a few smaller high islets in the lagoon, and a long ring of motus on the barrier reef. 

A round trip drive circumnavigating our island is only about 18 miles!

The most beautiful hotels and resorts in French Polynesia are located in Bora Bora. 

Island Superlatives
 courtesy of Josh Calder's Island Information  (Thank you John!) 


 Largest Island

The world's largest island is Greenland, with an area of about 823,000 sq mi / 2,132,000 sq km. Largely covered by an ice-cap several thousand feet / meters thick, Greenland has a population of only about 40,000, about 1/40th of Manhattan's, though Manhattan is 37,000 times smaller.

Australia is usually considered to be a continent. Why? Continent vs. island.

              See also the 100 largest islands of the world.


Lake Island

The largest lake island is Manitoulin I., in Lake Huron, Ontario, at 1,068 sq mi / 2,766 sq km.

              See largest lake islands for the top 20 lake islands in the world.


Volcanic island

The largest volcanic island is Iceland, at 39,702 sq mi / 102,828 sq km. It was formed by volcanic activity along the mid-Atlantic ridge, and is essentially exposed ocean floor.

Other larger islands, such as Sumatra and Honshu, have complex geologic origins, though they include some volcanic terrain. 


River Island

The world's largest river island is Ilha do Bananal, a 7,720 sq mi / 20,000 sq km island formed by two channels of the Araguaia River in Tocantins State, Brazil.

Ilha de Marajo, a 15,500 sq mi / 40,100 sq km island in Para, Brazil, is mostly surrounded by channels of the Amazon and Para rivers, but also extends into the Atlantic. It is the world's largest island formed by fluvial processes.


Sand Island

The world's largest sand island is Fraser Island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia, at 642 sq mi / 1,662 sq km.


Smallest Island Country

The smallest independent island country is the Pacific island of Nauru, which is 8.2 sq mi / 21.3 sq km.


Island on an Island

The largest island on another island is Pulau Samosir, in Lake Toba on Sumatra, Indonesia. Samosir is 245 sq mi / 630 sq km, and is inhabited.

There are several places where islands on islands in turn have lakes with islands - triple islands.


Artificial Island

The largest island created by human action is the Ile Rene-Lavasseur, a 780 sq mi / 2,020 sq km island in Manicouagan Reservoir, Quebec. The reservoir was formed by the damming of a river to flood a 210 million year old meteor crater, whose central uplift became the island.

Nasa photo of the Ile Rene-Lavasseur in Manicouagan Reservoir (389k)



The atoll with the largest land area is Kiritimati (formerly Christmas Island), in eastern Kiribati, with some 150 square
miles / 388 sq km of land. 

The largest atoll in total enclosed area is Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands, encircling a lagoon of 1,100 sq miles / 2,850 sq km.


United States

The largest island of the United States is Hawaii, at 4,021 sq mi / 10,414 sq km, and still growing slowly. The largest (and longest) island of the lower 48 states is Long Island.

See also the 33 largest islands of the United States.

See also largest islands of countries for most other countries and territories.



 Remotest Inhabited Island

Tristan da Cunha, a 38 sq mi / 98 sq km volcanic island in the South Atlantic with a population of 300, is 1,320 miles / 2,120 km from the island of St. Helena, the nearest inhabited land, and 1,700 miles / 2,740 km from the nearest continent, Africa.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui / Isla de Pascua) is sometimes described as the most isolated inhabited island on Earth, but is closer to inhabited land (Pitcairn I.) than Tristan da Cunha, and closer to a continent than many islands of the central Pacific.


Highest Islands

Orba Co, a lake in Tibet, stands at 17,090 feet / 5,209 meters above sea level, and contains several islands.


Lowest Island

There is an island in Afrera Ye'ch'ew Hayk, a lake in northern Ethiopia that lies at 337 ft / 103 m below sea level.


Northernmost Island

The most northerly island, and the northernmost point of land in the world, is tiny Oodaaq Island, at 83o40'N, off the north coast of Greenland.



 Oldest Island

The first islands appeared on Earth about 4.4 billion years ago, when the oceans formed. However, most islands now in existence are extremely young, the result of sea level changes and glacial retreat over the last 12,000 years or so.

The island that has existed longest is apparently Madagascar, which separated from India perhaps 85 to 90 million years ago, after the two had separated from Antarctica about 125 million years ago.


Youngest Volcanic Island

A volcanic island erupted from the sea on June 6, 1995, at Metis Shoal near Tonga's Vava'u Group. By the following month,
it was estimated to be 21 ac / 8.4 ha in area, and 178 feet / 54 meters high. There were proposals to name it Lomu Island, after a rugby player of Tongan ancestry.

However, it was thought that the island may be merely the latest incarnation of an island which has appeared near that site several times before, most recently as Lateiki Island, which existed from 1976 to 1978. The new island might survive for only a few years before eroding or subsiding beneath the waves.

Fukoto Kuokanaba, a volcanic islet in the Pacific near the Japanese island of Iwo Jima, was first reported in January, 1986, and is about 50 acres / 20 hectares in area.



 Islands in a Country

Finland claims to have more islands than any other country, with a stated total of 179,584.

While this count may essentially be accurate, Canada probably has far more islands than Finland, as it has immense areas of island-strewn lakes and thousands of miles of rocky coastline.

Several countries appear to have no islands at all.


Extravagantly Named Groups

The most extravagantly named group is the Lakshadweep islands off southwestern India, whose name translates "One Hundred Thousand Islands." In fact, there are 27.

The Thirty Thousand Islands of Georgian Bay, Ontario, probably do include several thousand islands.

The Thousand Islands of New York and Ontario number about 1,500.


Islands in a Lake

Lake of the Woods, shared by Ontario, Minnesota, and Manitoba, is said to contain 14,000 islands.



One of every ten people is an islander: there are more than 600 million people living on islands.


Most Populous Island Country

The most populous island country is Indonesia, which has 211 million inhabitants, scattered over several thousand inhabited islands.


Most Populous Island

The most populous island is Java, in Indonesia, which has about 109 million inhabitants living in 48,900 sq mi / 126,700 sq km (a density of 2,230 people per sq mi / 860 per sq km). 

See also the most populous islands of the world.


Most Populous Island in the United States

The most populous island in the United States is Long Island, New York, with 6.8 million inhabitants.


Largest uninhabited

The largest uninhabited island is Devon Island, in the Canadian Arctic, at 21,331 square miles 55,247 square kilometers.

Cocos Island off Costa Rica is often said to be the world's largest uninhabited island, but in fact there are several hundred larger islands without people.


Population density

Most densely populated island

Ap Lei Chau, off the southwest side of Hong Kong Island, is the world's most densely populated island, with 80,000 people living in 0.5 sq mi / 1.3 sq km, for a density of 160,000 per sq mi / 60,000 per sq km.


Most densely populated unbridged island

Male, in the Maldives, is the world's most densely populated unbridged island, with about 70,000 people living in 0.68 sq mi / 1.77 sq km, for a density of 103,000 per sq mi / 40,000 per sq km. With an additional 20-30,000 visitors at any one time, Male achieves densities of 130-160,000 per square mile / 50-55,000 per sq km.


Most densely populated island country

Singapore is the most densely populated all-island country. With 4.0 million people (as of 1999) living in 247.6 sq mi / 641.4 sq km, it achieves densities of 16,160 per sq mi / 6,240 per sq km. However, most Singaporeans live on the main island of Singapore, which is connected to the mainland by a solid causeway, and is thus not strictly speaking an island at all.

Before it reverted to China in 1999, Macao held the density record. Occupying the tip of the island of Zhongchan Dao and two small islands, Macao's 502,000 inhabitants live in 6 sq mi / 16 sq km, for a density of 84,700 per sq mi / 31,400 per sq km. All Macao's islands are connected by bridges to the mainland.


Most densely populated non-coastal island country

The non-coastal island country with the highest population density is Malta, with 377,000 people living on islands with a total area of 124 sq mi / 320 sq km. This translates to a density of 3,050 per sq mi / 1,180 per sq km.

A close second is Bermuda, a British colony in the Atlantic east of the United States. With about 62,500 inhabitants in 20.6 sq mi / 53.3 sq km, the island group has a density of 3,040 per sq mi / 1,170 per sq km.


Least densely populated

The least densely populated inhabited island is Ellesmere, in Nunavut, Canada, with 153 people on an island of 75,767 sq miles / 196,236 sq km. Each inhabitant thus has 495 sq miles / 1,283 sq km apiece.

This is 51 million times less than the density of Male, in the Maldives.


One Million Inhabitants

The smallest island on which one million or more people live is Manhattan, in New York City, with 1.48 million inhabitants living in 22 sq mi / 57 sq km (67,000 per sq mi / 26,000 per sq km).


Highest Inhabited Islands

There are several inhabited islands at 12,506 feet / 3,812 meters above sea level, in Lake Titicaca, Peru and Bolivia.


Lowest Inhabited Islands

There are inhabited islands off the coast of Azerbaijan at 92 feet / 28 meters below sea level, in the Caspian Sea.




Island Visiting

The person who has apparently visited more islands than anyone else is Philip Conkling, the director of Maine's Island Institute, who has been to about 1,000 islands in that state.

Some people in the Travelers' Century Club, whose members attempt to visit as many countries as possible, have been to islands in over 100 countries.


Island Living

Lawrence Durrell notes that Kimon Friar claims to have lived on 46 different islands.


Tallest Island

The world's tallest island is New Guinea, in the western Pacific, which rises 16,503 feet / 5,030 meters from sea level to the top of Mount Djaja.

See also the world's tallest islands.


Tallest Lake Island

Isla Ometepe, in Lake Nicaragua, is the world's tallest lake island: Concepcion Volcano rises 5,183 feet / 1,580 meters above lake level.


Fixed Link

The largest island ever joined to a continent by a fixed link is Great Britain, which is now tied to Europe by the Channel Tunnel.


Most Common Name

The most common name for islands is "big island" and equivalent terms in various languages.


Divided by borders


The smallest island shared by two countries is not Saint Martin / Sint Maarten, as commonly asserted, but instead the west island in Boundary Lake, North Dakota - Manitoba, at 3 acres / 1.1 ha. 

See also islands divided by international borders.


three countries

The only island shared by three countries is Borneo, in Southeast Asia, which is split between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.

 Last modified 1/16/00----------------------------------------© 2000 Joshua Calder