state whose primary territory consists of one or more islands or parts of islands

No man is an island - John Donne (1572-1631)

- Yet all of us in a sense are islanders, since on a planet 70% covered by interconnected oceans, every place is an island, in being surrounded by water. There must be over a million - Malaysia alone has over 17,000 - but no-one can count them. The count has even defeated auto-mapping IT based on satellite images, mainly because islands are fractal. Focus down on one, other islets swim into view, and around those are wave-dashed skerries, and around those . . . But even those where only a single seagull can perch are big enough to rip open an unwary boat, so counting and mapping them is no idle pastime.

Pitcairn's settlers came where no-one would find them

The greatest islands are continents, and even some of the non-continental islands are so big that you feel to be on a mainland. Scattered worldwide or in tight groups or connected by roads or tidal strands, some are leftovers of eroded mountains, some are fiery new land from volcanic activity, while others are sinking. Many are uninhabited or have precarious landing coves, others support bustling towns, airports and beach resorts. And then there are river islands (one of which changes hands annually between Spain and France), artificial islands (the Chinese Spratleys are causing tensions), or the likes of Yeats' "Lake Island of Innisfree". Whatever your tastes, there are islands to suit you.

Most islands are associated with a mainland, so for the Greek islands look at Greece, and Singapore Island oddly enough is in Singapore. This page is simply an index to those that are not so obviously part of a particular continent or country. Some are nation states in their own right, others are dependencies or territories, and on some hardly anyone has ever set foot.

Last but not least are "phantom islands" - these have been sighted and charted, in some cases consistently over decades, but turn out not to exist. For obvious reasons they can't be listed here, but if you do manage to get ashore on one, please make sure to describe it on these pages.



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