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Related to Islands: Caribbean Islands
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



tracts of land entirely surrounded by the waters of oceans, seas, lakes, or rivers. Islands differ from continents in that they are relatively small. They occur individually or in groups called archipelagoes.

The islands of oceans and seas are subdivided into continental islands, islands of the transitional zone, and oceanic islands. Continental islands, which rise above sea level from the underwater rim of the continents, include some of the world’s largest islands—Greenland, Kalimantan (Borneo), and Madagascar. They are usually composed of bedrock, although smaller islands may be formed through the accumulation of sediment by the action of waves and tides. Most of the islands of the transitional zones are volcanic; in some areas, however, there are mud volcano islands (for example, in the southern part of the Caspian Sea) and coral islands. Oceanic islands rise up from the ocean floor and mid-ocean ridges, and most are volcanic or coral islands.

The isolation of islands from continents determines the characteristics of their natural features, particularly their fauna and flora. Islands have fewer species than nearby continental areas lying in the same natural zone, and they have a high percentage of endemic species. This is especially true of oceanic islands.

The islands of rivers and lakes are divided into alluvial and erosion islands. The former are created through the accumulation of sediments in a channel or near the shore of a lake, and the latter are formed when river channels flow around an outlier composed of bedrock and alluvium or when a protruding segment

Table 1. The world’s largest archipelagoes and islands
   Area (sq km)
1Partly in the Pacific Ocean 2Partly in the Atlantic Ocean
 Pacific Ocean  
Greater Sunda  1,485,000
Kalimantan (Borneo)  735,000
Sumatra  435,000
Sulawesi (Celebes)  179,400
New Guinea  809,000
Japan  372,200
Honshu approx.228,000
Hokkaido approx.78,000
Philippines approx.300,000
Luzon  105,600
Mindanao  94,600
New Zealand  268,700
South Island  150,500
North Island  115,000
Lesser Sunda  128,000
Molucca  83,700
Sakhalin  76,400
Tasmania approx68,000
Taiwan approx.36,000
HainanAtlantic Ocean 34,000
British Isles approx325,000
Great Britain  218,000
Ireland  84,000
Greater Antilles  209,000
Cuba  105,000
Hispaniola approx.77,000
Newfoundland  112,300
Tierra del Fuego1Indian Oceanapprox72,000
Madagascar  590,000
Sri Lanka (Ceylon)Arctic Ocean 65,600
Greenland2  2,176,000
Canadian Arctic Archipelago2  1,300,000
Baffin  478,000
Victoria  221,000
Ellesmere  212,700
Iceland approx103,000
Novaia Zemlia  83,100
Spitsbergen approx62,000

of land near a lake is cut off by abrasion. (See Table 1 for the area of the world’s largest islands and archipelagoes.)

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Astor to establish a friendly intercourse between these islands and his intended colony, which might, for a time, have occasion to draw supplies thence; and he even had a vague idea of, some time or other, getting possession of one of their islands as a rendezvous for his ships, and a link in the chain of his commercial establishments.
two volcanic islands emerged of unequal size, surrounded by a coral reef that measured forty miles in circumference.
The next day I sailed to another island, and thence to a third and fourth, sometimes using my sail, and sometimes my paddles.
Nukuheva is the most important of these islands, being the only one at which ships are much in the habit of touching, and is celebrated as being the place where the adventurous Captain Porter refitted his ships during the late war between England and the United States, and whence he sallied out upon the large whaling fleet then sailing under the enemy's flag in the surrounding seas.
One day he and several of my other passengers landed upon what we supposed to be an island, but which was really an enormous whale floating asleep upon the waves.
All these things happened several years ago at a place called Novastoshnah, or North East Point, on the Island of St.
In these islands a great loggerheaded duck or goose (Ana brachyptera), which sometimes weighs twenty-two pounds is very abundant.
The island of Zanzibar belongs to the Imaum of Muscat, an ally of France and England, and is, undoubtedly, his finest settlement.
Changes of level in the land must also have been highly influential: a narrow isthmus now separates two marine faunas; submerge it, or let it formerly have been submerged, and the two faunas will now blend or may formerly have blended: where the sea now extends, land may at a former period have connected islands or possibly even continents together, and thus have allowed terrestrial productions to pass from one to the other.
There was no wind stirring to help me, and all I could do with my paddles signified nothing: and now I began to give myself over for lost; for as the current was on both sides of the island, I knew in a few leagues distance they must join again, and then I was irrecoverably gone; nor did I see any possibility of avoiding it; so that I had no prospect before me but of perishing, not by the sea, for that was calm enough, but of starving from hunger.
We are now going to look for a good place to live on this island."
A narrow loch, scarcely half a mile wide, separates Island McGill from the mainland of Ireland; and, once across this loch, one finds himself in an entirely different country.