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Which are the 10 largest islands in the world?

Updated on August 15, 2013

Island from above

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Introduction

The largest islands on Earth have varied origins. Some of them were drawn from a large continent, while others formed the boundary between tectonic plates or arose in areas with intense volcanic activity.

Because of the mere fact that they are isolated from other great lands, islands provides scientists with the opportunity to study unique wildlife and to observe how the climate change smaller areas of land.

Below you can read some information about the 10 largest islands on Earth and discover their geological origins.

Ellesmere Island

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10. Ellesmere Island

It's size : 196,236 square km.

Ellesmere Island is the third largest island in the Canadian Arctic. The region is mostly mountainous, and some of its peaks are covered by ice caps that generates glaciers flowing into the sea.

The island and the region around it, has been shaped by a massive layer of ice that covered Canada during the last ice age.

Most of the island is covered by fjords, while the north side is dominated by ice.

Victoria Island

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9. Victoria Island

It's size: 217,291 square km.

The second largest island in the Canadian Arctic. Like most of the surrounding areas, the island was covered by a thick layer of ice during the last ice age.

Due to the location, the island is not very populated, being largely covered by tundra.Most of the island is covered by sedimentary rocks, but there are areas where rock is Precambrian.

The glacial areas here are complex, including an island river, mountains and cliffs.

Moreover, Victoria Island hosts the largest island on a lake in an island. The small island from the lake has no name and apparently was never visited by humans, despite the fact that Victoria Island has 2,000 people living there.

Great Britain Island

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8. Great Britain Island

It's size: 228,300 square km including Ireland.

Today, Britain is an island in northwestern Europe, but 600 million years ago it seems it was separated into two quite far apart parts.

Scotland and north-west of Ireland formed part of Laurentia continent south of the equator, which included what we know today as the North America.

The rest of Ireland, England and Wales were part of Avalonia, a small continent found near the Arctic Circle.

The two continents have moved gradually toward the north, reaching over millions of years to merge and form the continent of Pangea. Later, Britain was part of Europe and has evolved into an island when the sea level rose.

Honshu Island

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7. Honshu Island

It's size: 227,898 square km.

Honshu is the largest and most populated island in Japan.

Honshu Island forms part of a highly active tectonic region called the Pacific Ring of Fire, the area where 90% of all earthquakes are recorded.

Although the area is intensively used for agriculture, there are some special natural features on the island.These features include the longest river in Japan, Shinano, and the Japanese Alps.

Some of the highest magnitude earthquakes in human history occurred on the island of Honshu.The most recent was held in March 2011 and had a magnitude of 8.9 degrees.

Sumatra Island

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6. Sumatra Island

It's size: 480,793 square km if we take in consideration the adjacent islands.

In geophysical therms, Sumatra is part of Indonesia, being located just below Malaysia in the Indian Ocean. The island is famous for its volcanoes which erupted 170 times in the last thousand years.

In 1883, an explosion of the volcano Krakatoa was so strong that it destroyed the entire island. The tectonic activity in the region has produced an unusual earthquake in 2012, when the earthquake moved four tectonic faults, three of which are perpendicular to each other.

Sumatra is the boundary between two tectonic plates: the Australian plate, located southwest of the island, and the Eurasian plate.

Baffin Island

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5. Baffin Island

It's size: 507,451 square km.

Baffin Island is close to Canada and part of the Arctic Archipelago, the largest Canadian island and the fifth largest in the world.

Much of the island is covered by a thick layer of ice that has lately begun to melt due to global warming.Climatologists find this island interesting precisely because the ice layers extends and retracts in response to temperature changes.

Arctic glaciers, including those on Baffin Island, have expanded rapidly during climatic cooling, event occurred 8,200 years ago and which lasted only 150 years. At that time, in just 20 years, the average temperature dropped 3 degrees.

Madagascar Island

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4. Madagascar Island

It's size: 587,041 square km.

Madagascar Island is located in the Eastern African coast which split 88 million years ago. But before this separation, the area has undergone a complex geological process.

Bbout 170 million years ago, Madagascar was part of a huge continent called Gondwana. With the changes in the earth's crust, Madagascar (which then was attached to India) split from Africa and South America, and later Australia and Antarctica.

Finally, India collided with Asia and created the Himalayas, while Madagascar was left in the Indian Ocean.

Following a long period of isolation, on the island many unique creatures have evolved, Madagascar becoming one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. More than 80% of the species on this planet can not be found in other places on Earth.

Borneo Island

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3. Borneo Island

It's size: 755.000 square km.

Borneo is situated in the South China Sea, between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and the island itself is divided between several countries.

Borneo is known, in particular, for its primates. Specifically, In Borneo live at least 10 primate species.

Orangutans in particular, have captured the attention of scientists precisely because these creatures quickly lose their habitat, they now live only in Borneo and Sumatra.

Although, now, Borneo is surrounded by water, in Tertiary (period that ranged from 65 million years ago to 1.5 million years ago) it was related to Southeast Asia. About three million years ago, tectonic plates caused the changes that made Borneo an island.

New Guinea Island

2. Island of New Guinea

It's size: 800,000 square km.

New Guinea is located north of Australia, and is divided between two countries: Papua (the Indonesian) and Papua New Guinea in the east, an independent country formed in 1975.

The island is a "hotbed" of volcanic activity, especially if we consider the volcano Ulawun from the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea. In the vicinity of this volcano (2.3 km) are many human settlements, and because of these, the volcano is widely studied by scientists.

So far, the volcano Rabaul leveled the town twice, once in 1937 and then in 1994.

Geographically speaking, New Guinea Island is quite young. It was formed in the area between two tectonic plates: one belonging to the Pacific Ocean and one from Australia's ancient content, according to the Embassy of Papua New Guinea.

New Guinea is one of the islands which has a rich biodiversity. Many of the unique species of the world were discovered there recently.

Greenland Island

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1. Greenland Island

It's size: 2,166,086 square km.

Greenland is located in the North Atlantic and is considered part of the Laurentian Plateau or Canadian Shield, a vast area made ​​up of some of the oldest rocks on Earth.

This island is famous for the ice that covers and which experts say would be 1,500 feet thick.

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