Discover the 5 Largest Islands in Canada

Newfoundland 
© iStock.com/RChoi

Written by Niccoy Walker

Updated: July 20, 2023

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With over 52,000 islands, Canada places fourth for countries with the biggest estimated number of islands. The Canadian Arctic Archipelago is an island chain to the north of Canada, half-way between the Canadian mainland and Greenland. These islands make up much of Northern Canada.

Picture graph of the 5 Largest Islands in Canada.
Four of these islands are in far northern Canada and experience Arctic weather.

Due to their extreme climates and remote locations, only around a dozen of Canada’s islands are inhabited, predominately by the Inuit, who have occupied the High Arctic for 4,000 years. Discover the five largest islands in Canada and learn about their geography and inhabitants.

1. Baffin Island

The massive island of Baffin is the largest island in Canada.

©Wildnerdpix/Shutterstock.com

Baffin Island is the largest island in Canada and the fifth-largest in the world. It lies in the territory of Nunavut in Northern Canada. It sits between the mainland and Greenland, with an area of 195,928 square miles. Baffin Island is one of the most inhabited islands in Canada, as well, with over 13,000 residents. And the largest ethnic group on the island is the Inuit. 

Baffin Island features a vast wild landscape and an Inuit homeland that draws visitors every year. The Arctic atmosphere provides a year-round playground for the adventurous, with mile-high mountains, dramatic coasts, and steep fjords. Auyuittuq National Park is also on the island, where people come to ski Mount Thor, the highest vertical cliff in the world. And the spectacular wildlife includes narwhals, polar bears, beluga whales, and snowy owls.

2. Victoria Island

Victoria Island is named for Queen Victoria.

©Andrew Harvey / Creative Commons – Original / License

As Canada’s second largest and the world’s eighth-largest island, Victoria Island is 83,897 square miles. It resides in the Arctic Archipelago, straddling the boundary of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The island has a population of 2,100, which is divided into two Inuit settlements, one in Nunavut (the largest is in Cambridge Bay) and one in the Northwest Territories. 

The island has abundant peninsulas with a heavily indented coastline. From there, the terrain rises to its maximum height of 2,150 feet in the northwest. The highest point lies in the Shaler Mountains. Victoria Island has a polar climate, with temperatures rarely reaching above 50 degrees F at any time of the year. 

3. Ellesmere Island

Striking Ellesmere Island is one of the largest islands in Canada.

©iStock.com/1127470616

Ellesmere Island is the tenth largest island in the world and third largest in Canada, featuring 75,767 square miles. It is also the northernmost island in the country and the most mountainous land within the Arctic Archipelago. Ellesmere Island is part of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, the northernmost cluster of islands in Canada. Cape Columbia is the most northerly point of land in the country.

As of 2021, only 144 people live on the island. The largest civilian settlement is in Grise Fiord, an Inuit hamlet 720 miles north of the Arctic Circle. This permanent residential area is the northernmost settlement in the world. July is the warmest month of the year when temperatures average 37℉. February is the coldest month, with temps plunging to an average of -36℉.

4. Newfoundland

Newfoundland 

Newfoundland

is the largest Canadian island outside of the Northern Territories.

©iStock.com/RChoi

With an area of 42,031 square miles, Newfoundland is the fourth-largest island in Canada and the 16th-largest in the world. It’s located off the eastern coast of North America’s mainland and is the largest Canadian island outside of the Northern Territories. It is also much more populous than the other large islands. Newfoundland has a population of over 530,000 and has experienced quite a bit of growth within the last decade. The majority of the population is English, Irish, Scottish, and French. The island features a humid continental climate, with average summer temperatures reaching 60 degrees Fahrenheit and winter temperatures around 32 degrees. Its summers are pleasant and brief, drawing tourists for camping, kayaking, hiking, and fishing.

5. Banks Island

Topographical map of Banks Island, Canada.

A topographical map of Banks Island, Canada with Victoria Island on the lower right.

©NOAA / Public Domain – Original / License

Banks Island is another large island in the Arctic Archipelago. It is part of the Northwest Territories in the Inuvik Region. Banks Island is the fifth-largest island in Canada and the 24th-largest in the world, with an area of 27,038 square miles. The Prince of Wales Strait separates Banks Island from Victoria Island. And the Amundsen Gulf, to the south of Banks Island, separates it from the mainland.

Sachs Harbour is the only civilian settlement on the island, featuring around 100 residents. Sachs Harbour is a hamlet on the island’s southwestern coast. The majority of the residents survive off of ice fishing, hunting, and oil exploration.

Summary of the Largest Islands in Canada

RankLargest Islands in CanadaSize
#1Baffin Island195,928 square miles
#2Victoria Island83,897 square miles
#3Ellesmere Island75,767 square miles
#4Newfoundland42,030 square miles
#5Banks Island27,038 square miles


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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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