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An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of
island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), sometimes known as a coral atoll, i ...

island
s, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands.
Indonesian Archipelago The islands of Indonesia, also known as the Indonesian Archipelago or Nusantara ''Nusantara'' is the Indonesian name of Maritime Southeast Asia (or parts of it). It is an Old Javanese Kawi or Old Javanese is the oldest attested phase ...
,
Andaman and Nicobar Islands Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a union territory of India consisting of 572 islands, of which 38 are inhabited, at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. The territory is about north of Aceh in Indonesia and separated from Thai ...

Andaman and Nicobar Islands
, the
Galápagos Islands The Galápagos Islands (official name: , other Spanish language, Spanish name: , , ), part of the Republic of Ecuador, are an archipelago of High island, volcanic islands. They are distributed on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean ...
,
Japanese Archipelago The Japanese archipelago (Japanese: 日本列島, ''Nihon rettō'') is a group of 6,852 islands that form the country of Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a ...
, the
Philippine Archipelago 225px, A map of the Philippines showing the island groups of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao">Visayas.html" ;"title="Luzon, the Visayas">Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao The islands of the Philippines, also known as the Philippine Archipelag ...
,
Maldives Maldives (, ; dv, ދިވެހިރާއްޖެ, translit=Dhivehi Raajje IPA: ), officially the Republic of Maldives, is an archipelagic country in the Indian subcontinent of Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located prima ...

Maldives
, the
Balearic Isles The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago of islands in Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The four largest islands are Mallorca, Menor ...
,
the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a sovereign country within the of the in the . It takes up 97% of the Lucayan Archipelago's land area and is home to 88% of the archipelago's population. The consists ...
, the
Aegean Islands The Aegean Islands ( el, Νησιά Αιγαίου, Nisiá Aigaíou; tr, Ege Adaları) are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated Bay, embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between ...
,
Hawaiian Islands The Hawaiian Islands ( haw, Mokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and seamounts in the Pacific Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, extending some from the Hawaii (island), island o ...
, the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island ...
,
Malta Malta ( , , ), officially known as the Republic of Malta ( mt, Repubblika ta' Malta ) and formerly Melita, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies south of Italy, east of Tunisi ...

Malta
, the
Azores The Azores ( , also ; pt, Açores ), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (), is one of the two (along with ). It is an composed of nine s in the region of the North Atlantic Ocean, about west of , about northwest of , and about ...

Azores
,
Canadian Arctic Archipelago The Arctic Archipelago, also known as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a sma ...
,
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

British Isles
,
Archipelago Sea The Archipelago Sea ( fi, Saaristomeri, sv, Skärgårdshavet) is a part of the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea (in Latin ''Mare Balticum'') is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, ...

Archipelago Sea
(Finland) and the
Shetland Islands Shetland ( on, Hjaltland; sco, Shetland; nrn, Hjetland), also called the Shetland Islands and formerly Zetland, is a subarctic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or co ...
are all examples of well-known archipelagos. They are sometimes defined by political boundaries. The Gulf archipelago off the north-eastern Pacific coast forms part of a larger archipelago that geographically includes Washington state's San Juan islands. While the Gulf archipelago and San Juan islands are geographically related, they are not technically included in the same archipelago due to manmade geopolitical borders.


Etymology

The word ''archipelago'' is derived from the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
ἄρχι-(''arkhi-'', "chief") and πέλαγος (''pélagos'', "sea") through the Italian ''arcipelago''. In
antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...
, "Archipelago" (from
medieval Greek Medieval Greek (also known as Middle Greek or Byzantine Greek) is the stage of the Greek language between the end of Classical antiquity in the 5th–6th centuries and the end of the Middle Ages, conventionally dated to the Fall of Constantino ...
*ἀρχιπέλαγος and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
) was the proper name for the
Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated Bay, embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between Europe's Geography of Europe, Balkan peninsula and Asia's Anatolia peninsula. The sea has an area of some 215,000 square kilometres. In ...

Aegean Sea
. Later, usage shifted to refer to the
Aegean Islands The Aegean Islands ( el, Νησιά Αιγαίου, Nisiá Aigaíou; tr, Ege Adaları) are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated Bay, embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between ...
(since the sea is remarkable for its large number of islands).


Geographic types

Archipelagos may be found isolated in large amounts of water or neighbouring a large land mass. For example,
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
has more than 700 islands surrounding its mainland which form an archipelago. Archipelagos are often volcanic, forming along island arcs generated by subduction zones or hotspots, but may also be the result of
erosion In earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific ...

erosion
,
deposition Deposition may refer to: * Deposition (law), taking testimony outside of court * List of deposed politicians, Deposition (politics), the removal of a person of authority from political power * Deposition (university), a widespread initiation ritual ...
, and
land elevation Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas that support agriculture, habitat, and various natural resources. Some life form ...
. Depending on their geological origin, islands forming archipelagos can be referred to as ''oceanic islands'', ''continental fragments'', and ''continental islands''.


Oceanic islands

Oceanic islands are mainly of volcanic origin, and widely separated from any adjacent continent. The
Hawaiian Islands The Hawaiian Islands ( haw, Mokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and seamounts in the Pacific Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, extending some from the Hawaii (island), island o ...
and
Easter Island Easter Island ( rap, Rapa Nui; es, Isla de Pascua) is an island and special territory of Chile Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country in the western part of South America South America is a continent ...

Easter Island
in the
Pacific The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. ...

Pacific
, and
Île Amsterdam Île Amsterdam (), also known as Amsterdam Island, New Amsterdam, or Nouvelle Amsterdam, is an island of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands in the southern Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic di ...
in the south
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's five ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of and contains 97% of . Another definition is "any of the large ...

Indian Ocean
are examples.


Continental fragments

Continental fragments correspond to land masses that have separated from a continental mass due to
tectonic Tectonics (; ) are the processes that control the structure and properties of the Earth's crust and its evolution through time. These include the processes of mountain building A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, gen ...
displacement. The
Farallon Islands The Farallon Islands, or Farallones (from the Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, ...
off the coast of
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
are an example.


Continental archipelagos

Sets of islands formed close to the coast of a continent are considered continental archipelagos when they form part of the same continental shelf, when those islands are above-water extensions of the shelf. The islands of the
Inside Passage The Inside Passage (french: Passage Intérieur) is a coastal route for ships and boats along a network of passage Passage may refer to: Places * Passage West, a town in County Cork, Ireland * Passage: 19th century English name for Pasaia (''Pasa ...

Inside Passage
off the coast of
British Columbia ( en, Splendour without diminishment) , image_map = British Columbia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = None , Slogan = Beautiful British C ...

British Columbia
and the
Canadian Arctic Archipelago The Arctic Archipelago, also known as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a sma ...
are examples.


Artificial archipelagos

Artificial archipelagos have been created in various countries for different purposes.
Palm Islands The Palm Islands are three artificial island An artificial island or man-made island is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_(right),_are_large_island ...
and the World Islands off Dubai were or are being created for leisure and tourism purposes. Marker Wadden in the Netherlands is being built as a conservation area for birds and other wildlife.


Further examples

The largest archipelagic state in the world by area, and by population, is
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
.


See also

*
Island arc Island arcs are long chains of active volcanoes with intense seismic activity found along convergent tectonic plate boundaries (such as the Ring of Fire). Most island arcs originate on oceanic crust and have resulted from the descent of the litho ...

Island arc
*
List of landforms Landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of the solid surface of the Earth or other planetary body A planet is an astronomical body Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies ...
* List of archipelagos by number of islands * List of archipelagos *
Archipelagic stateAn archipelagic state is a designation used for island country, island countries that consist of an archipelago. The designation is legally defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In various conferences, The Bahamas, Fiji, In ...
*
List of islands This is a list of the lists of islands in the world grouped by country, by continent, by body of water, and by other classifications. For rank-order lists, see the #Other lists of islands, other lists of islands below. Lists of islands by countr ...


References


External links

*
30 Most Incredible Island Archipelagos
{{Authority control Coastal and oceanic landforms Oceanographical terminology