Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.
Islands are a constant part of our planet. There are more than half a million land areas on Earth surrounded by water. The process of formation of islands practically does not stop, as well as their absorption by sea waters. Some are incredibly small, while others are so large that they are visible from space on a par with the earth's continents. Here are ten of the most outstanding in the literal sense of the word isolated land areas – the largest islands in the world.
Rating of the largest islands
|Ranking of the largest islands||1||Ellesmere (Canada)||192 236 KM2|
|2||Victoria (Canada)||217,291 KM2|
|3||Honshu (Japan)||227,970 KM2|
|4||United Kingdom (UK)||229,946 KM2|
|5||Sumatra (Indonesia)||435,000 km2|
|6||Baffin's Land (Canada)||507 451 KM2|
|7||Madagascar (Madagascar)||587,000 km2|
|8||Kalimantan (Borneo), (Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei)||734,000 km2|
|9||New Guinea (Papua New Guinea, Indonesia)||785,000 km2|
|10||Greenland (Denmark)||2 130 800 km2|
Area: 192,236 km2
Our top ten is opened by one of the largest islands on the planet and the third largest in Canada. The land discovered in 1616 became known to the world thanks to the explorer William Baffin. This is a rather unfriendly region: the climate here is very harsh, and about 1/3 of the island's surface is covered with eternal ice.
The first island settlers were Siberian nomads. By the 13th century, the Thule people (Eskimo ancestors) took root here, and by the middle of the 18th century the islands had become completely deserted. Today, due to the difficult living conditions, the permanent residents of Ellesmere, located in the province of Nunavut, can only be named one and a half hundred people.
Ellesmere is the highest point in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: the highest elevation in the highlands is 2616 meters. Since the time of the Ice Age, the island has been shrouded in ice on all sides. In fact, this place is one of the few that represent the 'remnants' of the ice age. A piece of Ellesmere, or rather, 1/5 of it, is considered a National Reserve and is strictly protected. Its territory includes a large number of glaciers and seven fjords.
Interesting fact. There is only one type of wood growing on the island – the arctic willow.
Area: 217,291 km2
The second largest island in the Arctic Canadian Archipelago, discovered by polar explorer Simpson in 1838. The predominant part of the large island is represented by several peninsulas (Prince Albert, Wollaston, Collinson and one more impressive peninsula in the eastern part of Headley Bay, which did not receive its own name). The coastline of the island is heavily indented, on its territory there are practically no hills, and among the existing ones there are none higher than 1 kilometer.
In the mid-20th century, Victoria Island was inhabited primarily by meteorologists. And by the beginning of the 21st, the population of the territory had grown significantly: the Eskimo settlers who were actively engaged in fishing activities migrated here. Nevertheless, there are only 2 settlements here: Holman and Cambridge Bay. But what there is a lot here is full-flowing lakes, the most significant and largest among them are Ferguson and Taha.
Area: 227,970 km2
The largest island in the Japanese archipelago and the most significant for the country. More than 100 million people live on its territory. The largest cities in the country and the capital are located here, including Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Hiroshima, etc. Honshu occupies about 60% of the entire territory of Japan. This island has the longest history and cult significance for the Japanese, because it was here that the ancient civilization of the Land of the Rising Sun was born.
The island is dominated by mountainous terrain – Honshu is literally indented by huge heights that form the climate of the area (among them there are many volcanoes). The island can be roughly divided into two climatic zones – southeast and northwest. Here is the largest mountain in the country (a symbol of pride for every Japanese) – Fujiyama (3776 meters) and the largest lake – Biwa (area – 670 km2). The length of the island's coastline is colossal – almost 5500 kilometers.
United Kingdom (UK)
Area: 229,946 km2
The seventh line of our ranking of the largest islands – Great Britain – the largest of the British Isles and, undoubtedly, the largest in Europe. The beginning of the great history of the island as the British Empire is considered 43 BC, but its territories were settled much earlier: several hundred thousand years ago the Noto people lived here.
Modern humans arrived in Britain before the Ice Age, but left the island due to the abundance of glaciers forming there. And about 6000 years ago, the first representatives of the Neolithic era appeared here.
Today, the UK is considered the most densely populated region in Europe – more than 61 million people live here. The main part of the state of the same name is located on the island – England, Scotland and Wales. The coastline of Great Britain from south to north is just under 1000 kilometers.
The island is important for the whole world not only thanks to the sites of ancient people discovered on its territories, dating back to 500,000 BC. The country located here has significant political weight. The United Kingdom, which is ruled by the British monarch (the current one is Queen Elizabeth II), has significant power in the world and subordinates to itself the actions on the world stage of several countries at once – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc.
Area: 435,000 km2 (according to other sources – 473,000 km2)
Representative of the Sunda Islands, the second largest in the country and the largest in the western part of it, Sumatra has a long history and vibrant 'life'. Located in both hemispheres, the island is divided by the equator line into two almost equal parts. The climate here is hot, humid, with abundant rainfall. It is often restless on the ground surface: earthquakes with a rather high amplitude (about 6-7) are not uncommon here.
Half of Sumatra's territory is dotted with mountainous relief: two large plateaus and the Barisan ridge. The island has many volcanoes, 12 of which are active. One of them – Kerinchi (Indrapura) – is also the highest point of the island area – it reaches 3,805 meters in height.
Interesting fact. Sumatra has one of the planet's 20 supervolcanoes – Toba. Supervolcanoes differ from ordinary volcanoes in the traditional sense of the word: their eruption can provoke climate change on the planet. At the moment, Toba is considered extinct. The last time he 'woke up' was about 73,000 years ago, and this awakening was fatal to the planet: it led to the so-called 'volcanic winter'. More than 800 km3 of ash were thrown into the sky, about 2800 km3 of magma poured out of the volcano's mouth, traces of which were recently discovered 7000 kilometers from the island. The population of the planet in that ancient period fell sharply to 2000 people.
Baffin's Land (Canada)
Area: 507,451 km2
The first 'half a million' in our ranking is the largest island in Canada. It was discovered by the British explorer William Buffin in 1616, and got its name in honor of him. The island area is distinguished by an unfriendly landscape and a harsh arctic climate with an average annual temperature of -8 C, so not many Canadians have settled here: only about 11,000 people. All of them live along the island coast: only scientific expeditions go into the depths of the snowy island in order to study absolutely untouched nature.
To preserve the unique environment for the local fauna and flora, the Ayuittuk National Park ('The land that never thaws') was created.
Interesting fact. Visiting Baffin's Land, you can witness a unique phenomenon – the Northern Lights – stunningly clean and beautiful. This is possible due to the fact that almost all parts of Baffin Land are located north of the Arctic Circle.
There are many freshwater lakes on the island. The two largest of them – Nettilling and Amadjuak have an area exceeding 5500 km2 (each). Baffin's Land is one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world. The largest island on the planet is located just 400 kilometers from it, but more on that later.
Area: 587,000 km2
The African island located in the Indian Ocean is also the state of the same name. It is inhabited by inhabitants similar to Africans, but there are enough differences. And yet, a large piece of land that broke away from the mainland more than 80 million years ago is fraught with many unique natural wonders. Locals call it 'red': because of the special composition, the color of the island soil is exactly that. But in the rest of the world, Madagascar has a different name – 'the eighth continent'. All because of the specifics of the flora and fauna of this area.
Madagascar is home to about 250,000 animal species, more than 2/3 of which are found exclusively here (endemic). Among them, for example, the ring-tailed lemur and the fossa are an unusual Madagascar predator that resembles a mixture of a cat and a dog (according to the Red Book – a 'vulnerable species'). About 90% of the 14,000 plants common on the island are also endemic. On the southwestern side of Madagascar, there is a huge coral reef – the 3rd largest on the planet.
Kalimantan (Borneo), (Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei)
Area: 734,000 km2
The only island in the world owned by 3 countries at once. In the local dialect, its name is translated as 'diamond river', which is not surprising, because the area is rich in valuable resources and diamonds are among them. It was discovered back in 1521 by sailors from the Magellanic expedition.
Surrounded on all sides by several seas, Kalimantan is considered the largest in Asia. The first settlers appeared on the territory of Kalimantan more than 40,000 years ago. Today it is home to about 20 million people representing 300 different ethnic groups. Most of them are Dayaks – the aborigines of the island.
The highest point in Borneo is Mount Kinabalu (4095 meters). The island boasts huge cave systems, one of which contains one of the longest underground rivers on the planet.
The Kalimantan forest is considered one of the oldest on the planet – it is more than 140 million years old. This is an earthly paradise for the animals inhabiting it, including endemics like the Sumatran rhinoceros, Kalimantan clouded leopard, etc. There is a huge species diversity of birds (more than 1,500 species), reptiles, snakes (including the famous king cobra, reaching a length of 6 meters – the largest among the poisonous). Borneo has about 15,000 plant species, 3,000 tree species.
New Guinea (Papua New Guinea, Indonesia)
Area: 785,000 km2
The Pacific Island – the second largest in the world, stands out among most other large island territories for its mountainous terrain (dominated by mountains and many volcanoes) and the uniqueness of the ecosystem, more precisely, its multi-layered nature. Savannahs, tundras (glacial and alpine), mangroves, tropics (forests and mountains), wetlands, lakes and rich coral reefs are found here.
New Guinea is still full of places unknown to man: researchers of flora and fauna constantly come here to study the rarest representatives of nature – more than 11,000 species of plants, 600 species of birds, 400 species of amphibians, etc.
The mountainous landscape of the island has led to the long-term isolation of the peoples inhabiting it: as a result, the diversity of language groups. Due to the lack of large animals suitable for domestication, the islanders did not manage to develop agriculture, however, as well as cattle breeding. This situation led to the slow development of society: up to the present day, the primitive communal system prevailed here.
Interesting fact. The unique agricultural settlement of Cook (one of the oldest in the world) lives on the territory of New Guinea, which has been developing agriculture in absolutely isolation for the past 10,000 years. It is a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Area: 2 130 800 km2
The pride of the Danes and the largest island on the planet – Greenland is also known throughout the world as the 'Green Country'. Moreover, more than 80% of its territories are covered with an ice sheet all year round – the Ilulissat fjord (the second largest after Antarctica), and the climate is by no means the most favorable. Officially, there are 2 versions of the unusual name. According to the first, earlier the climate of the island was milder, and the relief was green. According to the second, it was a subtle marketing ploy of antiquity to attract immigrants here.
Greenland is the Danish autonomy of the same name. Washed by two oceans. Greenland is 30 times larger than the rest of Denmark. The vast island territory is home to a very modest number of inhabitants – just over 57,000 people. Before the arrival of Europeans in the late 9th century, the territory was occupied by the Greenlandic Eskimos (Inuit) for thousands of years. And they felt quite comfortable, quickly getting used to the harsh Arctic living conditions.
The main activity of modern Greenlanders is fishing, actively developing reindeer and sheep breeding, as well as (oddly enough), oil production. Tourism also plays a significant role in the economy of the region: more than 20,000 travelers visit the largest island on the planet every year.
Interesting fact. The island is moving by leaps and bounds towards its own independence. In 1985, Greenland got its own flag and coat of arms. In 2008, the islanders were recognized as a separate people, and the local language was entrenched in the status of the state language.
Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.