5 Largest Islands in the World
If you’re wondering where Australia is on this list, you’re probably not alone. Australia is actually considered a continental landmass, much like Antarctica, meaning it won't find its way onto this list. With the Land Down Under aside, here are the largest islands in the world.
At 195,928 square miles, Canada’s Baffin Island can be found in the northern reaches of the territory of Nunavut. At just 11,000 people calling the island home, it’s also sparsely inhabited, although human presence on the island dates back more than three millennia. Until a recent drop in the 1990s, the island’s population of caribou had always vastly outnumbered the island’s people. The majority of the population is Inuit and lives in the island’s capital city of Iqaluit, which was founded in 1942. During World War II it served as a refueling point for American aircraft heading to Europe.
The island nation of Madagascar, off the southeastern coast of the African continent, gained notoriety with the 2005 animated film that shares its name. But this 226,658-square-mile island has attracted visitors for many years, long before the movie about an escaped group of zoo animals hit theaters. The island was first settled by Austronesian people from Borneo who made their way to Madagascar by canoe in the 4th century A.D. An island known for its biodiversity, Madagascar is the only place on the planet where lemurs can be seen in the wild. These primates are known as Madagascar’s flagship mammal species.
Borneo is known for its biodiversity, beautiful beaches and vast swathes of jungle. Wildlife species such as the proboscis monkey and the Borneo pygmy elephant can only be seen on this island. The island is now a hot spot for eco-tourism. The Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu, which features a large and modern international airport, serves as the island’s gateway with dozens of flights to and from China, Japan, South Korea and mainland Malaysia every day.
Split between the nations of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, this 303,381-square-mile island has been home to humans for more than 40,000 years. Colonized at various times by the British, Dutch and Germans, the island was also exposed to fierce fighting during World War II. There is very little tourism to the country, with far less than 50,000 visitors coming to the island annually. With little to no infrastructure in place for tourists, many active volcanoes, the possibility for tribal warfare and a healthy population of saltwater crocodiles, it’s a place for only the bravest of travelers.
Greenland, at a whopping 822,700 square miles, is the largest island in the world. Although it’s an autonomous country, Greenland, along with the Faroe Islands and Denmark, make up the Kingdom of Denmark. With a permanent ice sheet that covers 75% of the country, and a population of just under 60,000 people, Greenland is the least densely populated territory in the world. The primary income earner is fishing, which accounts for 90% of the island’s exports, although the island also holds rich mineral deposits, such as aluminum, nickel, platinum and titanium. There are signs the island is attempting to open up to tourism, including the fact that Nuuk, the capital, hosted the 2016 Arctic Winter Games.