The Top 11 Countries That Have the Most Islands in the World

Written by Patrick MacFarland
Published: March 17, 2024
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Ever wish you were living on an island? You would be able to enjoy the amazing weather, frolic in the water, and just live a life of luxury. Not many people have that life, but there are a select few that have ocean (or sea) views. But that’s not all, there are also islands on lakes. Some islands are tiny and others are huge — even entire countries. Around the world, some countries don’t have any islands within their borders and others have thousands! Let’s take a look at the top 11 countries that have the most islands in the world.

11. China

The country has 6,961 islands.

©ABCDstock/Shutterstock.com

Long ago, China didn’t have as many islands as it does now. In the past decade, China has gone through the process of dredging and creating artificial islands in the Spratlys, located in the South China Sea. In the past ten years, they have created about 3,200 acres of land. From their total number of islands, 433 islands are inhabited.

10. Philippines

The country has 7,641 islands.

©iStock.com/ViewApart

About 2,000 of the total islands the Philippines has are inhabited. Thousands don’t even have names and are tiny little things. Because the country is an archipelago, the islands are usually divided into groups of three major islands — Mindanao, Luzon, and the Visayas. Around 80% of the Philippines population lives in Mindanao and Luzon.

9. Australia

The country has 8,222 islands.

©iStock.com/katharina13

With thousands of islands, there are nine that are more than 390 square miles. Tasmania, with a total area of 24,911 square miles, is the largest of those islands. Melville Island, located in the Timor Sea in northern Australia, is the second-largest island and one of the largest in the world.

8. Indonesia

The country has 17,508 islands.

©aleskolodej/Shutterstock.com

Indonesia has the distinction of being the largest archipelagic country in the world. It has five major islands, but a whopping 17,000 islands inside its maritime borders. Of those, 6,000 islands are inhabited. New Guinea is the largest island by area, but Java is the largest in population with 151 million people living within the island.

7. United States

The country has 18,617 islands.

©Vacclav/iStock via Getty Images

The United States has around 10,000 inhabited islands. The largest is the Big Island of Hawaii with a total of 4,030 square miles. Kodiak Island in the state of Alaska is the second-largest but only has a population of 13,000. Lastly, Puerto Rico, a US territory, is the third-largest island in the country.

6. Chile

The country has 43,471 islands.

©David Ionut/Shutterstock.com

Of the tens of thousands of islands Chile has, only 2,324 of them are inhabited. Chile also claims several islands in Antarctica, but those are not included in the final tally. The largest island in Chile is Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, with a total area of 18,530 square miles. It is the 29th largest island in the world.

5. Canada

The country has 52,455 islands.

©&#169 Getty Images/PHOTOS.com>> via Getty Images

Canada has many islands in its large territory but has many uninhabited islands. Out of the inhabited ones, Baffin Island is the largest. It has an area of 195,928 square miles and is the fifth-largest island in the world, but only has about 13,000 people living on it. One such island near Canada — Hans Island — was in dispute for the longest time with Denmark. The agreement made in 2022 stated they would divide the island.

4. Japan

The country has 120,729 islands.

©Dominique Bonnet/Shutterstock.com

Even though the archipelagic country of Japan has more than 100,000 islands, only 430 of them are inhabited. From that number, 14,125 islands have a circumference of 0.06 miles or more. Furthermore, the largest island in Japan is Honshu — its area is 88,020 square miles and has a population of 104 million.

3. Finland

The country has 178,947 islands.

©iStock.com/cesa53rone

Finland has 780 inhabited islands within its maritime borders. The largest island in the country is located within a lake. Soisalo Island, within Lake Saimaa, has an area of 632 square miles. The smallest island is also located within the boundaries of a lake and is called Kyläniemi (with a total area of 8.88 square miles).

2. Norway

The country has 239,057 islands.

©iStock.com/Dreamnordno

The Nordic country of Norway has hundreds of thousands of islands, but only around 60 of them are inhabited. The largest one near the country is Hinnøya, measuring 851.2 square miles with a population of around 32,000. However, the largest island that is part of Norway is in the Svalbard archipelago — Spitsbergen, measuring 14,546 square miles.

1. Sweden

The country has 267,570 islands, the most of any country in the world.

©scanrail/iStock via Getty Images

Sweden takes the crown for having the most islands in the world. From this whopping number, about 8,000 of them have buildings on them, even though many of them are uninhabited. Furthermore, only 984 islands are inhabited. The largest island in Sweden is Gotland, measuring 1,229.2 square miles, and has a population of 61,000.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © valkird/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Patrick Macfarland is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, geography, and history. Patrick has been writing for more than 10 years. In the past, he has been a teacher and a political candidate. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from SDSU and a Master's Degree in European Union Studies from CIFE. From San Diego, California, Patrick loves to travel and try new recipes to cook.

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