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An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of
island upright=1.15, Ireland (left) and Great Britain (right), are large islands of north-west Europe image:Small Island in Lower Saranac Lake.jpg, A small island in Lower Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, New York state, U.S. Bangchuidao Isla ...
s, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands.
Indonesian Archipelago The islands of Indonesia, also known as the Indonesian Archipelago, may refer either to the islands comprising the country of Indonesia or to the geographical groups which include its islands. According to the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry ...
,
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 name: , , ), part of the Republic of Ecuador, are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean surrounding the centre of the Western Hemi ...
,
Japanese Archipelago#REDIRECT Japanese archipelago ...
, the
Philippine Archipelago 225px, A map of the Philippines showing the island groups of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao">Visayas.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Luzon, the Visayas">Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao The islands of t ...
,
Maldives Maldives (, ; dv, ދިވެހިރާއްޖެ, translit=Dhivehi Raajje), officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small archipelagic state in South Asia, situated in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, ...
, 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, Menorca ...
,
the Bahamas The Bahamas (), known officially as the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is a country within the Lucayan Archipelago of the West Indies in the Atlantic. It takes up 97% of the Lucayan Archipelago's land area and is home to 88% of the archipelago' ...
, the
Aegean Islands The Aegean Islands ( el, Νησιά Αιγαίου, Nisiá Aigaíou; tr, Ege Adaları) are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the so ...
,
Hawaiian Islands#REDIRECT Hawaiian Islands#REDIRECT Hawaiian Islands {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
, the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Islas Canarias, ), also known informally as ''the Canaries'', is a Spanish archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, in a region known as Macaronesia. At their closest point to the African mainland, they are west of Morocco. ...
,
Malta Malta (, ; in Maltese: ; Italian: ), 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 Ita ...
, the
Azores The Azores ( , also ; pt, Açores ), officially the Autonomous Region of the Azores (), is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal (along with Madeira). It is an archipelago composed of nine volcanic islands in the Macaronesia region of the ...
,
Canadian Arctic Archipelago The Arctic Archipelago, also known as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, is an archipelago lying to the north of the Canadian continental mainland, excluding Greenland (an autonomous territory of Denmark). Situated in the northern extremity of Nort ...
,
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe, consisting of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides and over six thousand smaller islands."Britis ...
,
Archipelago Sea The Archipelago Sea ( fi, Saaristomeri, sv, Skärgårdshavet) is a part of the Baltic Sea between the Gulf of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland and the Sea of Åland, within Finnish territorial waters. By some definitions it contains the largest archi ...
(Finland) and the
Shetland Islands Shetland ( on, Hjaltland; sco, Shetland; nrn, Hjetland), also called the Shetland Islands and formerly Zetland, is a subarctic archipelago in the Northern Isles of Scotland, situated in the Northern Atlantic, between Great Britain, the Faroe Is ...
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 used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages (), the Archaic period ...
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 (5th to 15th centuries) but still within Western civ ...
, "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 Ottoman conquest of ...
*ἀρχιπέλαγος and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the 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 the dominant language ...
) was the proper name for the
Aegean Sea The Aegean Sea ; tr, Ege Denizi is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between Europe's Balkan peninsula and Asia's Anatolia peninsula. The sea has an area of some 215,000 square kilometres. In the north, the Aegean is con ...
. 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, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the so ...
(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 ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a 96-mile (154 km) border with England to the southeast and is otherwis ...
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, erosion is the action of surface processes (such as water flow or wind) that removes soil, rock, or dissolved material from one location on the Earth's crust, and then transports it to another location. Erosion is distinct from ...

erosion
, deposition, 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#REDIRECT Hawaiian Islands#REDIRECT Hawaiian Islands {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
and
Easter Island Easter Island ( rap, Rapa Nui; es, Isla de Pascua) is an island and special territory of Chile in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle in Oceania. The island is most famous for its nearly 1, ...
in the
Pacific The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean (or, depending on definition, to Antarctica) in the south and is bounded by the continents of Asia ...

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 that together with neighbouring Île Saint-Paul to the south forms one ...
in the south
Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering or 19.8% of the water on Earth's surface. It is bounded by Asia to the north, Africa to the west and Australia to the east. To the south it is bounded by the Sou ...

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, the growth and behavior of the strong, old cores of continents kn ...
displacement. The
Farallon Islands The Farallon Islands, or Farallones (from the Spanish ''farallón'' meaning "pillar" or "sea cliff"), are a group of islands and sea stacks in the Gulf of the Farallones, off the coast of San Francisco, California, United States. The islands a ...
off the coast of
California California is a state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the most populous and the third-largest U.S. state by area. It is also the most populated subnational entity in N ...
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 passages which weave through the islands on the Pacific Northwest coast of the North American Fjordland. The route extends from southeastern A ...
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 Columbia ...
and the
Canadian Arctic Archipelago The Arctic Archipelago, also known as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, is an archipelago lying to the north of the Canadian continental mainland, excluding Greenland (an autonomous territory of Denmark). Situated in the northern extremity of Nort ...
are examples.


Artificial archipelagos

Artificial archipelagos have been created in various countries for different purposes.
Palm Islands The Palm Islands are three artificial islands, Palm Jumeirah, Deira Island and Palm Jebel Ali, on the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Creation of the islands started in 2001. Palm Jumeirah The Palm Jumeirah seen from the International ...
and the World Islands off Dubai were or are being created for leisure and tourism purposes.
Marker Wadden
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 and Oceania between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It consists of more than seventeen thousand islands, including Sumatra, ...

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 lithos ...

Island arc
*
List of landforms Landforms are categorized by characteristic physical attributes such as their creating process, shape, elevation, slope, orientation, rock exposure, and soil type. Landforms by process Landforms organized by the processes that create them. Aeolia ...
*
List of archipelagos by number of islands List of archipelagos by number of islands, islets, reefs, coral reefs and cays: See also * List of archipelagos * List of countries by number of islands * Archipelagic state References {{Reflist, 34em Archipelagoes ...
*
List of archipelagos This is a list of archipelagos, organised by oceans then seas and finally arranged alphabetically. Arctic Ocean Archipelagos of the Arctic Ocean: *Achton Friis Islands *Anzhu Islands *Arkticheskiy Institut Islands *Barren Islands *Berkeley Island ...
*
Archipelagic stateAn archipelagic state is a designation used for 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, Indonesia, Papua N ...
*
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 below. Lists of islands by continent Africa Antarctica ...


References


External links

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