An archipelago (/ˌɑːrkɪˈpɛləɡoʊ/ (listen) ARK-ih-PEL-ə-goh), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of islands, or sometimes a sea containing a small number of scattered islands.
Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, Maldives, the British Isles, the Bahamas, the Aegean Islands (Greece), the Florida Keys, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Canary Islands, the Madeira and the Azores are all examples of well-known archipelagos.
The word archipelago is derived from the Ancient Greek ἄρχι- (arkhi-, "chief") and πέλαγος (pélagos, "sea") through the Italian arcipelago. In Italian, possibly following a tradition of antiquity, "Archipelago" (from medieval Greek *ἀρχιπέλαγος and Latin archipelagus) was the proper name for the Aegean Sea and, later, usage shifted to refer to the Aegean Islands (since the sea is remarkable for its large number of islands).
Archipelagos may be found isolated in large amounts of water or neighbouring a large land mass. For example, Scotland has more than 700 islands surrounding its mainland which form an archipelago.
Archipelagos are often volcanic, forming along island arcs generated by subduction zones or hotspots, but may also be the result of erosion, deposition, and land elevation. Depending on their geological origin, islands forming archipelagos can be referred to as oceanic islands, continental fragments, and continental islands.
Oceanic islands are mainly of volcanic origin, and widely separated from any adjacent continent. The Hawai'ian Islands and Easter Island in the Pacific, and Île Amsterdam in the south Indian Ocean are examples.
Sets of islands formed close to the coast of a continent are considered continental archipelagos when they form part of the same continental shelf, when those islands are above-water extensions of the shelf. The islands of the Inland passage off the coast of British Columbia are an example.
The Aegean Islands (Greek: Νησιά Αιγαίου, translit. Nisiá Aigaíou; Turkish: Ege Adaları) are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast. The ancient Greek name of the Aegean Sea, Archipelago (ἀρχιπέλαγος, archipelagos) was later applied to the islands it contains and is now used more generally, to refer to any island group.
The vast majority of the Aegean Islands belong to Greece, being split among nine administrative regions. The only sizable possessions of Turkey in the Aegean Sea are Imbros (Gökçeada) and Tenedos (Bozcaada), in the northeastern part of the Sea. Various smaller islets off Turkey's western coast are also under Turkish sovereignty.
Most of the islands enjoy warm summer temperatures and cold winter temperatures, influenced by the Mediterranean climate.Aleutian Islands
The Aleutian Islands (; Russian: Алеутские острова; Aleut: Tanam Unangaa, literally "Land of the Aleuts", possibly from Chukchi aliat, "island"), also called the Aleut Islands or Aleutic Islands and known before 1867 as the Catherine Archipelago, are a chain of 14 large volcanic islands and 55 smaller ones belonging to both the U.S. state of Alaska and the Russian federal subject of Kamchatka Krai. They form part of the Aleutian Arc in the Northern Pacific Ocean, occupying an area of 6,821 sq mi (17,666 km2) and extending about 1,200 mi (1,900 km) westward from the Alaska Peninsula toward the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, and mark a dividing line between the Bering Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Crossing longitude 180°, at which point east and west longitude end, the archipelago contains both the westernmost part of the United States by longitude (Amatignak Island) and the easternmost by longitude (Semisopochnoi Island). The westernmost U.S. island in real terms, however, is Attu Island, west of which runs the International Date Line. While nearly all the archipelago is part of Alaska and is usually considered as being in the "Alaskan Bush", at the extreme western end, the small, geologically related Commander Islands belong to Russia.
The islands, with their 57 volcanoes, form the northernmost part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Physiographically, they are a distinct section of the larger Pacific Border province, which in turn is part of the larger Pacific Mountain System physiographic division.
These Islands are most known for the battles and skirmishes that occurred there during the Aleutian Islands Campaign of World War II. Attu and Kiska were the only two foreign invasions of the United States during that war.Arctic Archipelago
The Arctic Archipelago, also known as the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, is a group of islands north of the Canadian mainland.
Situated in the northern extremity of North America and covering about 1,424,500 km2 (550,000 sq mi), this group of 36,563 islands in the Arctic Sea comprises much of the territory of Northern Canada – most of Nunavut and part of the Northwest Territories. The Canadian Arctic Archipelago is showing some effects of global warming, with some computer estimates determining that melting there will contribute 3.5 cm (1.4 in) to the rise in sea levels by 2100.Bismarck Archipelago
The Bismarck Archipelago is a group of islands off the northeastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and is part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea. Its area is about 50,000 square km.British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe that consist of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Hebrides and over six thousand smaller isles. They have a total area of about 315,159 km2 and a combined population of almost 72 million, and include two sovereign states, the Republic of Ireland (which covers roughly five-sixths of Ireland), and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The islands of Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey, and Sark, and their neighbouring smaller islands, are sometimes also taken to be part of the British Isles, even though, as islands off the coast of France, they do not form part of the archipelago.The oldest rocks in the group are in the north west of Scotland, Ireland, and North Wales and are 2.7 billion years old. During the Silurian period, the north-western regions collided with the south-east, which had been part of a separate continental landmass. The topography of the islands is modest in scale by global standards. Ben Nevis rises to an elevation of only 1,345 metres (4,413 ft), and Lough Neagh, which is notably larger than other lakes in the island group, covers 390 square kilometres (151 sq mi). The climate is temperate marine, with mild winters and warm summers. The North Atlantic drift brings significant moisture and raises temperatures 11 °C (20 °F) above the global average for the latitude. This led to a landscape which was long dominated by temperate rainforest, although human activity has since cleared the vast majority of forest cover. The region was re-inhabited after the last glacial period of Quaternary glaciation, by 12,000 BC, when Great Britain was still part of a peninsula of the European continent. Ireland, which became an island by 12,000 BC, was not inhabited until after 8000 BC. Great Britain became an island by 5600 BC.
Hiberni (Ireland), Pictish (northern Britain) and Britons (southern Britain) tribes, all speaking Insular Celtic, inhabited the islands at the beginning of the 1st millennium AD. Much of Brittonic-occupied Britain was conquered by the Roman Empire from AD 43. The first Anglo-Saxons arrived as Roman power waned in the 5th century, and eventually dominated the bulk of what is now England. Viking invasions began in the 9th century, followed by more permanent settlements and political change, particularly in England. The Norman conquest of England in 1066 and the later Angevin partial conquest of Ireland from 1169 led to the imposition of a new Norman ruling elite across much of Britain and parts of Ireland. By the Late Middle Ages, Great Britain was separated into the Kingdoms of England and Kingdom of Scotland, while control in Ireland fluxed between Gaelic kingdoms, Hiberno-Norman lords and the English-dominated Lordship of Ireland, soon restricted only to The Pale. The 1603 Union of the Crowns, Acts of Union 1707 and Acts of Union 1800 attempted to consolidate Britain and Ireland into a single political unit, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands remaining as Crown Dependencies. The expansion of the British Empire and migrations following the Irish Famine and Highland Clearances resulted in the dispersal of some of the islands' population and culture throughout the world, and a rapid depopulation of Ireland in the second half of the 19th century. Most of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom after the Irish War of Independence and the subsequent Anglo-Irish Treaty (1919–1922), with six counties remaining in the UK as Northern Ireland.
The term "British Isles" is controversial in Ireland, where there are nationalist objections to its usage. The Government of Ireland does not officially recognise the term, and its embassy in London discourages its use. Britain and Ireland is used as an alternative description, and Atlantic Archipelago has also seen limited use in academia.Canary Islands
The Canary Islands (; Spanish: Islas Canarias, pronounced [ˈizlas kaˈnaɾjas]) is a Spanish archipelago and the southernmost autonomous community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Morocco at the closest point. The Canary Islands, which are also known informally as the Canaries, are among the outermost regions (OMR) of the European Union proper. It is also one of the eight regions with special consideration of historical nationality recognized as such by the Spanish Government. The Canary Islands belong to the African Plate like the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the two on the African mainland.The seven main islands are (from largest to smallest in area) Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The archipelago includes much smaller islands and islets: La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este. It also includes a series of adjacent roques (those of Salmor, Fasnia, Bonanza, Garachico and Anaga). In ancient times, the island chain was often referred to as "the Fortunate Isles". The Canary Islands are the most southerly region of Spain and the largest and most populated archipelago of the Macaronesia region. Historically, the Canary Islands have been considered a bridge between four continents: Africa, North America, South America and Europe.The archipelago's beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especially Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and Teide National Park and Mount Teide (a World Heritage Site) in Tenerife (the third tallest volcano in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor), make it a major tourist destination with over 12 million visitors per year, especially Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. The islands have a subtropical climate, with long hot summers and moderately warm winters. The precipitation levels and the level of maritime moderation vary depending on location and elevation. Green areas as well as desert exist on the archipelago. Due to their location above the temperature inversion layer, the high mountains of these islands are ideal for astronomical observation. For this reason, two professional observatories, Teide Observatory on the island of Tenerife and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, have been built on the islands.
In 1927, the Province of Canary Islands was split into two provinces. The autonomous community of the Canary Islands was established in 1982. Its capital is shared by the cities of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which in turn are the capitals of the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been the largest city in the Canaries since 1768, except for a brief period in the 1910s. Between the 1833 territorial division of Spain and 1927 Santa Cruz de Tenerife was the sole capital of the Canary Islands. In 1927 a decree ordered that the capital of the Canary Islands be shared, as it remains at present. The third largest city of the Canary Islands is San Cristóbal de La Laguna (a World Heritage Site) on Tenerife. This city is also home to the Consejo Consultivo de Canarias, which is the supreme consultative body of the Canary Islands.During the time of the Spanish Empire, the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to the Americas, which came south to catch the prevailing northeasterly trade winds.Cape Verde
Cape Verde ( (listen)) or Cabo Verde ( (listen), ) (Portuguese: Cabo Verde, pronounced [ˈkabu ˈveɾdɨ]), officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. It forms part of the Macaronesia ecoregion, along with the Azores, Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. In ancient times these islands were referred to as "the Islands of the Blessed" or the "Fortunate Isles". Located 570 kilometres (350 mi) west of the Cape Verde Peninsula off the coast of Northwest Africa, the islands cover a combined area of slightly over 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi).
The Cape Verde archipelago was uninhabited until the 15th century, when Portuguese explorers discovered and colonized the islands, establishing the first European settlement in the tropics. Ideally located for the Atlantic slave trade, the islands grew prosperous throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, attracting merchants, privateers, and pirates. The end of slavery in the 19th century led to economic decline and emigration. Cape Verde gradually recovered as an important commercial center and stopover for shipping routes. Incorporated as an overseas department of Portugal in 1951, the islands continued to campaign for independence, which was peacefully achieved in 1975.
Since the early 1990s, Cape Verde has been a stable representative democracy, and remains one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa. Lacking natural resources, its developing economy is mostly service-oriented, with a growing focus on tourism and foreign investment. Its population of around 540,000 is mostly of mixed European, Moorish, Arab and African heritage, and predominantly Roman Catholic, reflecting the legacy of Portuguese rule. A sizeable diaspora community exists across the world, slightly outnumbering inhabitants on the islands.
Historically, the name "Cape Verde" has been used in English for the archipelago and, since independence in 1975, for the country. In 2013, the Cape Verdean government determined that the Portuguese designation Cabo Verde would henceforth be used for official purposes, such as at the United Nations, even in English contexts. Cape Verde is a member of the African Union.Galápagos Islands
The Galápagos Islands (official name: Archipiélago de Colón, other Spanish name: Las Islas Galápagos, Spanish pronunciation: [laz ˈihlah ɣaˈlapaɣoh]), part of the Republic of Ecuador, are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the equator in the Pacific Ocean surrounding the centre of the Western Hemisphere, 906 km (563 mi) west of continental Ecuador. The islands are known for their large number of endemic species and were studied by Charles Darwin during the second voyage of HMS Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by means of natural selection.
The Galápagos Islands and their surrounding waters form the Galápagos Province of Ecuador, the Galápagos National Park, and the Galápagos Marine Reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of slightly over 25,000.The first recorded visit to the islands happened by chance in 1535, when Fray Tomás de Berlanga, the Bishop of Panamá, was surprised with this undiscovered land during a voyage to Peru to arbitrate in a dispute between Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro. De Berlanga eventually returned to the Spanish Empire and described the conditions of the islands and the animals that inhabited them. The group of islands was shown and named in Abraham Ortelius's atlas published in 1570. The first crude map of the islands was made in 1684 by the buccaneer Ambrose Cowley, who named the individual islands after some of his fellow pirates or after British royalty and noblemen. These names were used in the authoritative navigation charts of the islands prepared during the Beagle survey under captain Robert FitzRoy, and in Darwin's popular book The Voyage of the Beagle. The new Republic of Ecuador took the islands from Spanish ownership in 1832, and subsequently gave them official Spanish names. The older names remained in use in English-language publications, including Herman Melville's The Encantadas of 1854.Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiian: Mokupuni o Hawai‘i) are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) from the island of Hawaiʻi in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll. Formerly the group was known to Europeans and Americans as the Sandwich Islands, a name chosen by James Cook in honor of the then First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich. The contemporary name is derived from the name of the largest island, Hawaii Island.
The U.S. state of Hawaii now occupies the archipelago almost in its entirety (including the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands), with the sole exception of Midway Island, which instead separately belongs to the United States as one of its unincorporated territories within the United States Minor Outlying Islands.
The Hawaiian Islands are the exposed peaks of a great undersea mountain range known as the Hawaiian–Emperor seamount chain, formed by volcanic activity over a hotspot in the Earth's mantle. The islands are about 1,860 miles (3,000 km) from the nearest continent.Japanese archipelago
The Japanese archipelago (日本列島, Nihon Rettō) is a group of 6,852 islands that form the country of Japan. It extends over 3,000 km (1,900 mi) from the Sea of Okhotsk northeast to the Philippine Sea south along the northeastern coast of the Eurasia continent. It consists of islands from the Sakhalin island arc, the Northeastern Japan arc to the Ryukyu islands and the Nanpō Islands.
The term Home Islands was used at the end of World War II to define the area of Japan to which its sovereignty and the constitutional rule of the Emperor would be restricted. The term is also commonly used today to distinguish the archipelago from Japan's colonies and other territories in the first half of the 20th century.Lakshadweep
Lakshadweep (; ISO: Lakṣadvīp ), formerly known as the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Aminidivi Islands (), is a group of islands in the Laccadive Sea, 200 to 440 km (120 to 270 mi) off the southwestern coast of India. The archipelago is a Union Territory and is governed by the Union Government of India. They were also known as Laccadive Islands, although geographically this is only the name of the central subgroup of the group. Lakshadweep means "one hundred thousand islands" in Sanskrit and Malayalam. The islands form the smallest Union Territory of India and their total surface area is just 32 km2 (12 sq mi). The lagoon area covers about 4,200 km2 (1,600 sq mi), the territorial waters area 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi) and the exclusive economic zone area 400,000 km2 (150,000 sq mi). The region forms a single Indian district with 10 subdivisions. Kavaratti serves as the capital of the Union Territory and the region comes under the jurisdiction of Kerala High Court. The islands are the northernmost of the Lakshadweep-Maldives-Chagos group of islands, which are the tops of a vast undersea mountain range, the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge.As the islands have no aboriginal inhabitants, scholars have suggested different histories for the settlement of these islands. Archaeological evidence supports the existence of human settlement in the region around 1500 BC. The islands have long been known to sailors, as indicated by an anonymous reference from the first century AD to the region in Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. The islands were also mentioned in the Buddhist Jataka stories of the sixth century BC. Islam was established in the region when Muslim missionaries arrived around the seventh century. During the medieval period, the region was ruled by the Chola dynasty and Kingdom of Cannanore. The Catholic Portuguese arrived around 1498 but were expelled by 1545. The region was then ruled by the Muslim house of Arakkal, followed by Tipu Sultan. On his death in 1799, most of the region passed on to the British and with their departure, the Union Territory was formed in 1956.
Ten of the islands are inhabited. At the 2011 Indian census, the population of the Union Territory was 64,473. The majority of the indigenous population is Muslim and most of them belong to the Shafi school of the Sunni sect. The islanders are ethnically similar to the Malayali people of the nearest Indian state of Kerala. Most of the population speaks Malayalam with Mahi (or Mahl) being the most spoken language in Minicoy island. The islands are served by an airport on Agatti Island. The main occupation of the people is fishing and coconut cultivation, with tuna being the main item of export.List of islands of Indonesia
The islands of Indonesia, also known as the Indonesian archipelago and formerly known as the Indian archipelago, may refer either to the islands comprising the nation-state of Indonesia or to the geographical groups which include its islands. According to the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, of 17,508 officially listed islands within the territory of the Republic of Indonesia, 16,056 island names have been verified by the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) as of July 2017.Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago (Indonesian and Malay: Kepulauan Melayu/Nusantara, Tagalog: Kapuluang Malay, Visayan: Kapupud-ang Malay) is the archipelago between mainland Indochina and Australia. It has also been called the Malay World, Indo-Australian Archipelago, East Indies, Nusantara, Spices Archipelago and other names over time. The name was taken from the 19th-century European concept of a Malay race, later based on the distribution of Austronesian languages.Situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the group of over 25,000 islands is the largest archipelago by area and fourth by number of islands in the world. It includes Brunei, Singapore, East Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor. The term is largely synonymous with maritime Southeast Asia.Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands or the Moluccas () are an archipelago in eastern Indonesia. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone. Geographically they are located east of Sulawesi, west of New Guinea, and north and east of Timor.
The islands were known as the Spice Islands due to the nutmeg, mace and cloves that were originally exclusively found there, the presence of which sparked colonial interest from Europe in the sixteenth century.The Maluku Islands formed a single province from Indonesian independence until 1999, when it was split into two provinces. A new province, North Maluku, incorporates the area between Morotai and Sula, with the arc of islands from Buru and Seram to Wetar remaining within the existing Maluku Province. North Maluku is predominantly Muslim, and its capital is Sofifi on Halmahera island. Maluku province has a larger Christian population, and its capital is Ambon. Though originally Melanesian, many island populations, especially in the Banda Islands, were massacred in the seventeenth century during the spice wars. A second influx of immigrants primarily from Java began in the early twentieth century under the Dutch and continues in the Indonesian era.
Between 1999 and 2002, conflict between Muslims and Christians killed thousands and displaced half a million people.Mauritius
Mauritius ( (listen); French: Maurice, Creole: Moris [moʁis]), officially the Republic of Mauritius (French: République de Maurice, Creole: Repiblik Moris), is an island nation in the Indian Ocean. The main Island of Mauritius is located about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of the African continent. The Republic of Mauritius also includes the islands of Rodrigues, Agalega and St. Brandon. The capital and largest city Port Louis is located on the main island of Mauritius.
In 1598, the Dutch took possession of Mauritius. They abandoned Mauritius in 1710 and the French took control of the island in 1715, renaming it Isle de France. France officially ceded Mauritius including all its dependencies to the United Kingdom (UK) through the Treaty of Paris, signed on 30 May 1814 and in which Réunion was returned to France. The British colony of Mauritius consisted of the main island of Mauritius along with Rodrigues, Agalega, St Brandon, Tromelin and the Chagos Archipelago, while the Seychelles became a separate colony in 1906. The sovereignty of Tromelin is disputed between Mauritius and France as some of the islands such as St. Brandon, Chagos, Agalega and Tromelin were not specifically mentioned in the Treaty of Paris.In 1965, three years prior to the independence of Mauritius, the UK split the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritian territory, and the islands of Aldabra, Farquhar and Desroches from the Seychelles, to form the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The UK forcibly expelled the archipelago's local population and leased its largest island, Diego Garcia, to the United States. The UK has restricted access to the Chagos Archipelago; it has been prohibited to casual tourists, the media, and its former inhabitants. The sovereignty of the Chagos is disputed between Mauritius and the UK. In February 2019, in an advisory opinion given by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on this dispute, the ICJ ordered the UK to hand back the Chagos Islands to Mauritius as rapidly as possible.
The people of Mauritius are multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual. The island's government is closely modelled on the Westminster parliamentary system, and Mauritius is highly ranked for democracy and for economic and political freedom. The Human Development Index of Mauritius is one of the highest in Africa. Mauritius is ranked as the most competitive and one of the most developed economies in the African region. The main pillars of the Mauritian economy are manufacturing, financial services, tourism, and information and communications technology. Mauritius is a welfare state; the government provides free universal health care, free education up to tertiary level and free public transport for students, senior citizens, and the disabled.
Along with the other Mascarene Islands, Mauritius is known for its varied flora and fauna, with many species endemic to the island. The island was the only known home of the dodo, which, along with several other avian species, was made extinct by human activities relatively shortly after the island's settlement.Melanesia
Melanesia (UK: , US: ) is a subregion of Oceania extending from New Guinea island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji.
The region includes the four independent countries of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, as well as the French special collectivity of New Caledonia, and the Indonesian region of Western New Guinea. Most of the region is in the Southern Hemisphere, with a few small northwestern islands of Western New Guinea in the Northern Hemisphere.
The name Melanesia (in French Mélanésie) was first used by Jules Dumont d'Urville in 1832 to denote an ethnic and geographical grouping of islands whose inhabitants he thought were distinct from those of Micronesia and Polynesia.Svalbard
Svalbard (; Urban East Norwegian: [²sʋɑːlbɑɾ]; prior to 1925 known by its Dutch name 'Spitsbergen') is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. Situated north of mainland Europe, it is about midway between continental Norway and the North Pole. The islands of the group range from 74° to 81° north latitude, and from 10° to 35° east longitude. The largest island is Spitsbergen, followed by Nordaustlandet and Edgeøya. Administratively, the archipelago is not part of any Norwegian county, but forms an unincorporated area administered by a governor appointed by the Norwegian government. Since 2002, Svalbard's main settlement, Longyearbyen, has had an elected local government, somewhat similar to mainland municipalities. Other settlements include the Russian mining community of Barentsburg, the research station of Ny-Ålesund, and the mining outpost of Sveagruva. Ny-Ålesund is the northernmost settlement in the world with a permanent civilian population. Other settlements are farther north, but are populated only by rotating groups of researchers.
The islands were first taken into use as a whaling base for the Danish Empire as Dano-Norwegians travelled north in hunt of whale fat in the 17th and 18th centuries, after which they were abandoned. Coal mining started at the beginning of the 20th century, and several permanent communities were established. The Svalbard Treaty of 1920 recognizes Norwegian sovereignty, and the 1925 Svalbard Act made Svalbard a full part of the Kingdom of Norway. They also established Svalbard as a free economic zone and a demilitarized zone. The Norwegian Store Norske and the Russian Arktikugol remain the only mining companies in place. Research and tourism have become important supplementary industries, with the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault playing critical roles. No roads connect the settlements; instead snowmobiles, aircraft and boats serve inter-community transport. Svalbard Airport, Longyear serves as the main gateway.
The archipelago features an Arctic climate, although with significantly higher temperatures than other areas at the same latitude. The flora take advantage of the long period of midnight sun to compensate for the polar night. Svalbard is a breeding ground for many seabirds, and also features polar bears, reindeer, the Arctic fox, and certain marine mammals. Seven national parks and twenty-three nature reserves cover two-thirds of the archipelago, protecting the largely untouched, yet fragile, natural environment. Approximately 60% of the archipelago is covered with glaciers, and the islands feature many mountains and fjords.
Svalbard and Jan Mayen are collectively assigned the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code "SJ". Both areas are administered by Norway, though they are separated by a distance of over 950 kilometres (510 nautical miles) and have very different administrative structures.Tuamotus
The Tuamotus, also referred to in English as the Tuamotu Archipelago or the Tuamotu Islands (French: Îles Tuamotu, officially Archipel des Tuamotu), are a French Polynesian chain of almost 80 islands and atolls forming the largest chain of atolls in the world. This archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean stretches from the northwest to the southeast over an area roughly the size of Western Europe. The total area of land within this chain is 850 square kilometres (328 square miles), with its major islands being Anaa, Fakarava, Hao and Makemo.
The Tuamotus have approximately 16,000 inhabitants. The islands were initially settled by Polynesians, and from them, modern Tuamotuans share a common culture and the Tuamotuan language.
The Tuamotus are a French overseas collectivity. The people of Tahiti originally referred to the islands with the exonym of the Paumotus, which means the "Subservient Islands", until a delegation from the island convinced the French authorities to change it to Tuamotus, which means the "Distant Islands".West Indies
The West Indies is a region of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean that includes the island countries and surrounding waters of three major archipelagos: the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles and the Lucayan Archipelago.The region includes all the islands in or bordering the Caribbean Sea, plus The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, which are in the Atlantic Ocean. Depending on the context, some references to the West Indies may include some nations of northern South America that share the history and culture of the West Indian islands.