An island is a land mass (smaller than a continent) surrounded by water. There are hundreds of thousands of islands in the world, spread across different countries – so many that the total number of islands on Earth is almost impossible to calculate. It is incredibly hard to estimate accurately, mainly because there are debates on what constitutes an island. Greenland, the world’s largest island, stretches over 836,000 square miles. But there are countries made up mostly of archipelagos—chains, clusters, or collections of islands.
Here in this article, you will discover what countries have the most islands in the world and which country exactly tops the list? Read on to find out.
Countries With The Most Islands
7. Australia – 8,222
Australia is the 7th country in the world with the highest number of islands, totaling 8,222 islands. Though it is technically considered a continent, Australia was historically referred to as an island because of its lack of land borders. Australia claims several large islands in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean, and the Coral and Timor Seas. They range in size from islands larger than 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) to smaller rocks not covered by water. The world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island, is a famous island found in Australia, 124 miles north of Brisbane in Queensland. Another popular oceanic island in Australia is Christmas Island, an isolated island in the Indian Ocean.
6. Indonesia – 17,504
The 6th country with the most islands after Australia is Indonesia, boasting the largest single archipelago in the world. The Indonesia archipelago encompasses 17,504 islands, with about 6,000 being inhabited. Known as the nation with the fourth-highest population in the world at over 270 million, Indonesia is also the country with the most inhabited islands. The most populous is Java Island, which comprises about 60% of the Indonesian population, i.e., 130 million people — about the same size as New York State! Other prominent islands of Indonesia include Sumatra island, which is much larger than Java island but has only about one-third of the country’s population. Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Papua/Irian Jaya are also major islands found here.
5. United States -18,617
The United States is home to 18,617 islands, coming in fifth place on our list. Every state in the U.S is dotted with islands in its lakes and rivers and even off the coasts. Just in Alaska alone, there are at least 2,670 named islands, the most of any state. Even though Alaska is known to have bigger islands, Hawaii is the only state which is completely an island, stretching over 4,028 square miles. Nicknamed “Big Island,” Hawaii is an archipelago with 8 large islands (7 inhabited) and 129 smaller islands.
4. Canada – 52,455
Considering the fact that Canada is the second-largest country by landmass — about 3,860,000 square miles — it’s no surprise that it boasts a large number of islands too. There are a total of 52,455 Canadian islands bordering the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans, making Canada the country with the longest coastline in the world. Three notable islands in Canada rank in the top 10 largest islands in the world. They include; Baffin Island, Ellesmere Island, and Victoria Island. They are all part of the Arctic Archipelago, an area of more than 550,000 square miles located north of the country in the Arctic Ocean.
3. Finland – 178,947
Finland is the third of the big three countries, with hundreds of thousands of islands worldwide. This country comprises a total of 178,947 islands, of which 549 are permanently inhabited, and many others are used nearly always for recreational purposes. Most of Finland’s islands are in the Archipelago Finland region, running from the country’s southwestern coast to the Baltic Sea.
2. Norway -239,057
Norway is in the No. 2 position on our list, with a total of 239,057 islands! One of the most famous islands in Norway is Lofoten Islands, found in the Norwegian Sea, above the Arctic Circle. It is a tourist attraction due to its peculiar natural environment, being home to a vast population of fishes and natural wonders such as the midnight sun during the day and northern lights during the winter months. A region of Norway known as Western Fjords is dotted with many islands characterized by steep hills, deep valleys, waterfalls, rivers, and numerous islands with rugged landscapes.
1. Sweden -221,831
Finally, the country with the most islands in the world is Sweden, with a whopping total of 267,570 islands. In reality, Sweden has 221,831 counted islands, of which 24,000 are open to the public. Even though Sweden is well-known as the country with the most islands in the world, it’s surprising that less than 1,000 of them are inhabited.
The most renowned of the country’s thousands of islands is Stockholm archipelago, which encompasses about 30,000 islands, islets, and rocks. Another prominent one, the Bohuslän archipelago, comprises more than 8,000 islands and islets. According to a ranking by CNN Travel, the Bohuslän coast is the seventh-most beautiful natural wilderness area worldwide.