Largest Islands in the World
Largest Islands in the World
In this July 21, 2011 photo, Inuit hunter Nukappi Brandt steers his small boat as he and his daughter Aaneeraq, 9, scan the water for seals, accompanied by his other daughter Luusi, 8, outside Qeqertarsuaq, Disko Island, Greenland. The country, impacted by global warming causing ice sheets to melt, is the largest island in the world. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

In this July 21, 2011 photo, Inuit hunter Nukappi Brandt steers his small boat as he and his daughter Aaneeraq, 9, scan the water for seals, accompanied by his other daughter Luusi, 8, outside Qeqertarsuaq, Disko Island, Greenland. The country, impacted by global warming causing ice sheets to melt, is the largest island in the world. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Greenland, the world's largest island, is northeast of Baffin Island, the world's fifth largest island. (Google Maps)

Greenland, the world's largest island, is northeast of Baffin Island, the world's fifth largest island. (Google Maps)

An aerial view August 30, 2007, of the town of Ilulissat, Greenland. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

An aerial view August 30, 2007, of the town of Ilulissat, Greenland. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

The Aurora Borealis glows in the sky, September 03, 2007, in the Greenland town of Kangerlussuaq. The Northern Lights most often occurs from September to October and from March to April and are a popular tourist attraction. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

The Aurora Borealis glows in the sky, September 03, 2007, in the Greenland town of Kangerlussuaq. The Northern Lights most often occurs from September to October and from March to April and are a popular tourist attraction. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

New Guinea, above Australia and to the east of Indonesia, is the world's second-largest island. The island between Indonesia and Singapore is Borneo, the world's third largest island, which is shared by Malaysia and Indonesia. (Google Maps)

New Guinea, above Australia and to the east of Indonesia, is the world's second-largest island. The island between Indonesia and Singapore is Borneo, the world's third largest island, which is shared by Malaysia and Indonesia. (Google Maps)

Residents fish Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007, on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea near Kimbe Bay. Papua New Guinea is part of New Guinea, the second-largest island in the world. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Residents fish Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007, on the island of New Britain, Papua New Guinea near Kimbe Bay. Papua New Guinea is part of New Guinea, the second-largest island in the world. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

A Matschie's Tree Kangaroo, the only one at the Singapore Zoo is seen in the Fragile Forest section which houses animals in danger of extinction on Monday March 2, 2009 in Singapore. Papua New Guinea, long derided for allowing widespread illegal logging, created a conservation area the size of Singapore to protect the bear-like, tree kangaroos and other endangered species in 2009. Papua New Guinea is one part of New Guinea, the second-largest country in the world. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

A Matschie's Tree Kangaroo, the only one at the Singapore Zoo is seen in the Fragile Forest section which houses animals in danger of extinction on Monday March 2, 2009 in Singapore. Papua New Guinea, long derided for allowing widespread illegal logging, created a conservation area the size of Singapore to protect the bear-like, tree kangaroos and other endangered species in 2009. Papua New Guinea is one part of New Guinea, the second-largest country in the world. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

In this Nov. 27, 2007 file photo, reef fish swim among the coral in Kimbe Bay off the coast of Papua New Guinea's New Britain island. (AP Photo/David Longstreath, File)

In this Nov. 27, 2007 file photo, reef fish swim among the coral in Kimbe Bay off the coast of Papua New Guinea's New Britain island. (AP Photo/David Longstreath, File)

Borneo, the island in the middle, is split between Malaysia and Indonesia. It is the third largest island in the world. (Google Maps)

Borneo, the island in the middle, is split between Malaysia and Indonesia. It is the third largest island in the world. (Google Maps)

This file aerial photograph taken on June 7, 2012 shows lush tropical forest in the Central Kalimantan province in Indonesia on Borneo island, which is the third-largest island in the world. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

This file aerial photograph taken on June 7, 2012 shows lush tropical forest in the Central Kalimantan province in Indonesia on Borneo island, which is the third-largest island in the world. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

(Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)

(Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)

In this photograph taken on June 4, 2012 residents bathe in the Barito river in Central Kalimantan province on Indonesia's Borneo island. The vast 900 kilometers length of the river stretching from the mountains of Central Kalimantan drains to the Java Sea in South Kalimantan province, is a source of water for residents, fishing grounds, a source of farm irrigation and transport system for villagers as well as for coal barges. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

In this photograph taken on June 4, 2012 residents bathe in the Barito river in Central Kalimantan province on Indonesia's Borneo island. The vast 900 kilometers length of the river stretching from the mountains of Central Kalimantan drains to the Java Sea in South Kalimantan province, is a source of water for residents, fishing grounds, a source of farm irrigation and transport system for villagers as well as for coal barges. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is off the coast of mainland Africa. (Google Maps)

Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is off the coast of mainland Africa. (Google Maps)

An overall view of part of the Ikopa River, Antanimbary, Madagascar, in April 2007. The African country is situated on the fourth-largest island in the world. (AP Photo)

An overall view of part of the Ikopa River, Antanimbary, Madagascar, in April 2007. The African country is situated on the fourth-largest island in the world. (AP Photo)

Ring-tailed lemurs huddle next to a man-made baobab tree, at Expedition Madagascar, a exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb., in 2010. The lemurs are natives of Madagascar, an African nation that is the fourth-largest country in the world. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Ring-tailed lemurs huddle next to a man-made baobab tree, at Expedition Madagascar, a exhibit at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb., in 2010. The lemurs are natives of Madagascar, an African nation that is the fourth-largest country in the world. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

In this photo supplied by Mantadia Corridor Restoration and Conservation Project (MCRCP) locals water beds as they implementing new farming methods near Andranolava, Madagascar, Friday, Dec. 14, 2007. Much of the land on the edge of the rain forests have been ruined through slash and burn agriculture techniques. (AP Photo/Joana Coutinho,MCRCP)

In this photo supplied by Mantadia Corridor Restoration and Conservation Project (MCRCP) locals water beds as they implementing new farming methods near Andranolava, Madagascar, Friday, Dec. 14, 2007. Much of the land on the edge of the rain forests have been ruined through slash and burn agriculture techniques. (AP Photo/Joana Coutinho,MCRCP)

Baffin Island (the island to the right of

Baffin Island (the island to the right of "Northwestern Passages") in Canada's Nunavut territory is the world's fifth largest island. (Google Maps)

This image shows converging outlet glaciers from large ice caps on NE Baffin Island, Arctic Canada. Baffin Island is the fifth-largest island in the world. (G. H. Miller/Science 360)

This image shows converging outlet glaciers from large ice caps on NE Baffin Island, Arctic Canada. Baffin Island is the fifth-largest island in the world. (G. H. Miller/Science 360)

Five year-old Simoe Arnatsiaq (R) plays on a hill with friends above the village of Iqaluit, capitol of Nunavut Territory in the Canadian arctic, during an outing with a pre-school group in October 2002. Iqaluit is on Baffin Island, the fifth-largest island in the world. (Andre Forget/AFP/Getty Images)

Five year-old Simoe Arnatsiaq (R) plays on a hill with friends above the village of Iqaluit, capitol of Nunavut Territory in the Canadian arctic, during an outing with a pre-school group in October 2002. Iqaluit is on Baffin Island, the fifth-largest island in the world. (Andre Forget/AFP/Getty Images)

Paul Oaklik, the then-Premier-elect of Nunavut, arrives at a photo opportunity on a dog sled in March 1999 in Iqaluit, North West Territories, Canada. (Carlo Allegri/AFP/Getty Images)

Paul Oaklik, the then-Premier-elect of Nunavut, arrives at a photo opportunity on a dog sled in March 1999 in Iqaluit, North West Territories, Canada. (Carlo Allegri/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Greenland—839,999 square miles     

Greenland is considered the world’s largest island because Australia is classified as a continent.  Greenland is still governed by Denmark, though with increasingly less oversight and possible complete independence in the future. The northern landmass is cold most of the year and activities such as dog-sled racing and hunting are common. Tourists are drawn to the island to hike, fish, and visit hot springs, as well as experience the native Inuit culture. As of July 2013, the population was 57,714—with 89 percent of the people being Inuit, or natives, and Danes making up much of the rest. The country is slightly more than three times the size of the U.S. state of Texas. 

2. New Guinea—309,000 square miles 

This island, above Australia and to the east of Singapore, is believed to have been at one point in time connected to Australia. Currently, the country is split in half—the western half is part of Indonesia and the eastern half is an independent country, Papua New Guinea. The land’s wildlife is astounding—it contains between 5 and 10 percent of the total species on the planet, and more than 1,000 new species were discovered in just a decade, from 1998 through 2008. Those in the United States can glimpse this beauty in the current “Birds of Paradise” exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C., and travelers to the country can see it up close. On the other hand, the rainforests in the country—which house these species—are consistently being cleared for palm oil plantations and other uses.

3. Borneo—290,000

Situated southeast of the Malay Peninsula, Borneo also has a great deal of biodiversity, and is the one place remaining in Southeast Asia where topical rainforests can still be conserved on a large scale, according to the World Wildlife Foundation—meaning, similar to New Guinea, the rainforests are threatened by development. Species abound here, too, with more than 400 species discovered between 1994 and 2007, and 124 more discovered since 2007, including a frog with no lungs, and a flame-colored snake. Multiple endangered species such as the clouded leopard, which recently went extinct in Taiwan, make Borneo their home. Borneo is split between Malaysia (upper part) and Indonesia.

4. Madagascar—227,000 square miles

The African country situated to the east of Mozambique is separated from mainland Africa by the Mozambique Channel. Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island, and includes several islands off its coasts. Like the second and third largest islands in the world, Madagascar is home to a range of species found nowhere else on Earth or found few other places. The country’s 70-plus species of lemur, for example, are all endangered, according to National Geographic. French and Malagasy are the primary languages, as Madagascar used to be under French rule before becoming independent in 1960. To put its size in context, it is slightly less than twice the size of the U.S. state of Arizona. More than 22.5 million people live in Madagascar. It has had many periods of instability, similar to many African countries.

5. Baffin—195,926 square miles

Baffin is part of Canada’s Nunavut territory, and is between most of the country and Greenland. The capital of Nunavut, Iqaluit, is on the island, and has a population of over 6,000; other cities on the island have relatively low populations, below 1,500 each. Europeans discovered the island in 1576 and used it as a whaling base for several centuries. The wildlife is much different here than the tropical islands listed above, although it has more than Greenland, which is further north. Caribou, polar bears, arctic foxes, arctic hares, and lemmings are some of the animals that make their home on the island, and walrus, narwhal, and seals winter here. A range of birds uses the island to nest during the summer, protected by a bird sanctuary. Visitors to the island enjoy kayaking between ice flows and seeing the Northern Lights phenomenon. 

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