Earth is sprinkled with many islands, but do you know which ones are the largest islands in the world?
No, it’s not Australia, and the answer might surprise you. But hey, we’re here to show exactly what the largest islands are, their total area, and location.
So, if you’re curious about these isolated pieces of land, then you will want to read this post. We’ll discuss the largest islands in the world based on total land area.
What Is an Island?
Islands are bodies of land surrounded by water. While continents are also surrounded by water, they are so big that they are not considered islands.
Why Is Australia Not an Island?
Although the country is surrounded by water, Australia is considered a continental landmass. By that definition, Australia can’t be an island because it’s already a continent. For reference, Australia is more than three times the size of Greenland, the world’s largest island.
Largest Islands in the World
Here are the world’s biggest islands in ascending order.
The 16th on the list of the largest islands in the world is Newfoundland, located in North America.
It covers an area of 42,031 square miles and is the fourth largest island in Canada. The island is shaped roughly like a triangle and has a subarctic climate.
Newfoundland is home to several native animal species, including the Newfoundland black bear, ermine, muskrat, red fox, North American river otter, Newfoundland pine marten, Canada lynx, etc.
Several rare herbs and insects are also found on this North American island.
With an area of close to 42,457 square miles, Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines.
It has a vast indented coastline spanning around 3,000 miles. Luzon also has several active and dormant volcanoes.
The island is home to dense rainforests with various plant and animal life.
The most notable animals include the long-tailed macaque, Philippine warty pig, common palm civet, Malay civet, Philippine brown deer, as well as several species of birds.
14. Te Ika-a-Māui
The Te Ika-a-Māui or North Island is the smaller, although more populous, of the two main islands of New Zealand.
The name comes from the Māori mythology and can be translated as ‘the fish of Māui’ (a demigod).
Several national and forest parts have been established to protect the variety of birds and animals native to this Oceania island.
The next on our list of the world’s largest islands is Java. This Indonesian island covers a total area of around 49,976 square miles and is the most populous island in the world.
Close to half of the total population of Indonesia resides in Java. Its capital is Jakarta.
The island is home to 112 volcanoes, of which around 35 are currently active. The volcanic ash has made the Javan soils highly fertile.
As a result, about 5,000 plant species, including bamboo, teak, and casuarina, are found here.
In addition to bantengs, monkeys, crocodiles, and one-horned rhinoceroses, several species of birds, snakes, and insects are also found all over the island.
12. Te Waipounamu
Also known as South Island, Te Waipounamu covers a total area of around 58,084 square miles.
It is a part of New Zealand and is home to the country’s highest peak – Aoraki or Mount Cook. The island is also home to four extinct volcanoes.
There are ten national parks on the island, of which the Fiordland National Park is the largest.
Various birds are endemic to this region, including the great spotted kiwi, South Island pied oystercatcher, South Island robin, black-fronted tern, rock wren, etc.
Situated to the east of Borneo, Sulawesi island covers an area of around 69,761 square miles.
It is among the largest islands in the world, especially in the Indonesian region. The Maros province of the island is well known for being home to the oldest cave painting in the world, being drawn close to 40,000 years ago.
The island is home to various flora and fauna, including the Sulawesi palm civet, crested black macaque, maleo, the babirusa, and other endemic species.
10. Ellesmere Island
The third-largest island of Canada, Ellesmere Island, covers roughly 75,767 square miles and is located between the Baffin Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Quttinirpaaq National Park, which includes several fjords and glaciers, is located here.
While a large part of the island is covered with ice, polar bears, caribou, and musk oxen are found in several regions.
Although several birds and mammals inhabit the land, there is a lack of vegetation due to the ice. The only known woody plant found in Ellesmere island is the tiny Arctic willow.
9. Great Britain Island
Located off the west coast of Europe, Great Britain ranks ninth among the largest islands in the world.
Consisting of England, Wales, and Scotland (United Kingdom), it is the largest island in Europe with 80,823 square miles.
The island doesn’t have a great variety of wildlife due to factors like rapid urbanization as well as separation from Mainland Europe.
The most common animals found on the island belong to rodent species, including squirrels, rabbits, hares, rats, etc.
Other animals found in or around the island include red foxes, weasels, otters, red deer, seals, whales, and countless birds.
Note: Although Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the country is located on a different island.
8. Victoria Island
The second-largest island in the Arctic Archipelago, Victoria Island, is named after Queen Victoria, who ruled over it till 1901. Located in Canada, the island covers an area of around 83,897 square miles.
This Canadian island is a sparsely populated isle with settlements concentrated in the west and southeast areas.
The shape of Victoria Island has a slight resemblance to a maple leaf. The most notable animals on the island are the barren-ground caribou, who migrate to Victoria during summer.
Along with being one of the largest islands in the world, Honshu is the biggest of the four main islands that are part of Japan.
The island’s total area is close to 87,992 square miles and has a long coastline of 6,266 miles.
The island is home to Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, and it is actually considered part of the Japanese mainland.
A diverse variety of wildlife inhabits the island, including the Asian black bear, the Japanese macaque, the Japanese green woodpecker, and the green pheasant.
The Japanese green pheasant is the national bird of the country. Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, is also situated on Honshu island.
Sumatra is a large Indonesian island that covers a total area of around 182,812 square miles. It is home to Lake Toba, the largest crater lake in the world.
The island has a hot and moist climate, making it perfect for plants like orchids, rhododendrons, Rafflesia (monster flowers), and huge trees like oaks, ebony, chestnut, rubber, and sandalwood.
In addition, its tropical rainforest is home to relatively untouched nature and wildlife, consisting of the Sumatran rhinoceros, orangutans, lemurs, tigers, elephants, and civets.
5. Baffin Island
The largest island in Canada, Baffin Island, covers an area of 195,928 square miles. It is located between the Canadian mainland and the island of Greenland in North America.
The island is named after William Baffin, an English explorer who discovered the region.
The region is abundant in wildlife, with polar bears, lemmings, Arctic foxes, and arctic hares.
A range of migratory bird species, including Arctic terns, Canada goose, waders, and ducks, visit this island every year. The waters surrounding the coasts are also home to seals, walruses, and several species of whales.
Located off the southeast coast of Africa, Madagascar occupies the fourth position among the largest islands in the world.
It covers a total area of around 226,756 square miles. The capital city of Madagascar is Antananarivo.
The vegetation on this African island consists mainly of small trees, bamboo, and prairie grasses, although dwarf baobab trees, palms, and xerophytic plants are also found in some areas.
The island is home to a wide variety of fauna, including several species of butterflies, spiders, chameleons, birds, and lemurs. Crocodiles also inhabit the rivers of the islands.
Located southeast of the Malay Peninsula, Borneo is a large island surrounded by the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea, and the Celebes Sea on the northwest, northeast, and east, respectively.
The Java sea lies in the south of this Asian island, separating it from the island of Java. It covers a total area of around 292,000 square miles.
The island has a hot and humid equatorial climate that encourages the growth of a dense rainforest housing a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Apart from several species of birds and insects, Bornean clouded leopards, Bornean orangutans, Proboscis monkeys, and elephants are some of the most notable animals found in the region.
In addition, the rare Rafflesia arnoldii, the largest flower in the world, is also native to Borneo.
Borneo is the only island on this list to have three countries – Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia, but the majority of the island is Indonesian territory.
2. New Guinea
Ranking second among the largest islands in the world, New Guinea covers an area of around 317,150 square miles.
Located to the north of Australia, the island can be divided into two parts based on administration.
The western part consists of Papua and West Papua provinces, a part of Indonesia. In contrast, the eastern part consists of the independent country of Papua New Guinea.
New Guinea has a tropical climate that encourages the growth of trees like figs, orchids, and mangroves.
Rainforests cover a considerable part of the island. The island has a wide variety of wildlife, including tree kangaroos, phalangers, cassowaries, birds of paradise, etc.
1. World’s Largest Island: Greenland
Covering a total area of 836,331 square miles, Greenland is the largest island in the world.
Located on the North Atlantic ocean, this island is well known for its huge glaciers, which are the largest outside of the polar region.
Greenland is home to the largest ice sheet in the world after Antarctica, which makes up close to four-fifths of the island’s area.
The vast expanse of ice inhibits the growth of large trees. Therefore, the only plants on the island are of the tundra type.
Lichen, cotton grass, willow, dwarfed birch, etc., can be found in some regions. The fauna consists mainly of polar bears, arctic foxes, musk oxen, etc.
Fishes, seals, and whales are found in the island’s waters. The capital of Greenland is Nuuk.
Some More of the Largest Islands on Earth:
- Banks Island
- Sri Lanka
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