What are the World's Largest Islands?

Michael Anissimov

The largest islands in the world are Greenland, with an area of 822,706 sq mi (2,130,800 sq km), followed by New Guinea, with an area of 303,381 sq mi (785,753 sq km), and Borneo, with an area of 288,869 sq mi (748,168 sq km). These are followed by Madagascar, with an area of 226,917 sq mi (587,713 sq km), Baffin Island (Canada), with an area of 195,928 sq mi (507,451 sq km), and Sumatra (Indonesia), with an area of 171,069 sq mi (443,066 sq km). All the other largest islands have areas of less than 100,000 sq mi, like Honshū (Japan), Victoria Island (Canada), and Great Britain (UK).

Borneo, the world's third largest island, is home to orangutans.
Borneo, the world's third largest island, is home to orangutans.

Despite being foremost among the world's largest islands, Greenland is largely uninhabited, with a population of just 60,000. This makes it one of the least densely populated places on Earth outside Antarctica, with a population density of just 0.069 people per square mile (0.027 per sq km). For many years a province of Denmark, Greenland is now an independent democratic country within the larger Kingdom of Denmark, with its capital at Nuuk, also known as Godthåb ("Good Hope"). Though most of the island is covered in continental ice sheet (the only area outside of Antarctica to have one), much of the ice is melting and opening up larger portions of the island to oil and gas prospecting.

Honshu, Japan is one of the world's largest islands.
Honshu, Japan is one of the world's largest islands.

The second of the largest islands in the world is New Guinea, located just north of Australia. Even though New Guinea only makes up less than a half of a percent (0.5%) of the Earth's surface, 5-10% of the world's plant and animal species can be found there, many of them endemic. This rainforest-covered island is famous for its great biodiversity and large swaths of land unexplored by biologists and anthropologists. It is believed that over 44 uncontacted tribes live in the highland regions of the island, a number second only to Brazil. The discovery of new species on New Guinea are announced regularly, and the island continued to be a popular destination for both eco-tourists and scientists.

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The third of the largest islands of the world is Borneo, another rainforest island located a few hundred miles to the west of New Guinea. Divided between the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, Borneo has a population of 16 million, making it the most populated of the world's largest three islands. Like New Guinea, Borneo displays a high degree of biodiversity and contains what is considered one of the three great rainforests of the world, along with the Amazon Rainforest and the Congo Rainforest. Many animals found here are found nowhere else, like the orangutan and the Sumatran Rhino.

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Discussion Comments


Ummm, I couldn't help but notice that you did not name Australia, which is considered as an island, and at that, the world's largest island. I would put Australia at the top of the list, followed by the other islands you named.

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