Infographic: Visualizing the World's 100 Biggest Islands
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Visualizing the World’s 100 Biggest Islands

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View the full-size version of the infographic.

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Visualizing 100 of the World’s Biggest Islands

View the full-size version of the infographic by clicking here.

When you think of an island, the first thing that might come to mind is a small, sunny beach surrounded by warm waters. But did you know that 11% of the world’s population actually calls islands their home?

Today’s data visualization is designed by mapmaker David Garcia, and it ranks the 100 largest islands found around the world by size.

Islands in the Stream

The 100 biggest islands range from the likes of expansive Greenland to independent Guadalcanal, the largest of the Solomon Islands. But look a little closer, and you’ll see just how much the top contender outshines the rest. Greenland is almost three times the size of the second-biggest island of New Guinea, and you could fit over 408 Guadalcanal islands within it.

In the visualization, the islands are also tinted, depending on the climate they come from. Blue islands are from the polar regions, turquoise islands lie in the temperate zones, and green islands represent the lush tropics. Which of these regions hosts the most islands?

IslandCountriesRegion
Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland)DenmarkEurope
New GuineaPapua New Guinea, IndonesiaOceania
Pulau Borneo (Kalimantan)Indonesia, Malaysia, BruneiAsia
MadagasikaraMadagascarAfrica
Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin Island, Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
SumatraIndonesiaAsia
HonshuJapanAsia
Kitlineq (Victoria Island)CanadaNorth America
Great BritainUnited KingdomEurope
Ellesmere (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
SulawesiIndonesiaAsia
Te Waipounamu (South Island)New ZealandOceania
JavaIndonesiaAsia
Te Ika-a-maui (North Island)New ZealandOceania
NewfoundlandCanadaNorth America
CubaCubaNorth America
LuzonPhilippinesAsia
IcelandIcelandEurope
MindanaoPhilippinesAsia
IrelandIreland, United KingdomEurope
HokkaidoJapanAsia
SakhalinRussiaEurasia
HispaniolaDominican Republic, HaitiNorth America
Banks IslandCanadaNorth America
Sri LankaSri LankaAsia
TasmaniaAustraliaOceania
Tatlurutit (Devon Island, Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
Isla Grande de Tierra del FuegoPanamaSouth America
SevernyRussiaEurasia
Shugliaq (Southampton)CanadaNorth America
Axel Heiberg (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
MelvilleCanadaNorth America
Spitsbergen (Svalbard)NorwayEurope
KyushuJapanAsia
TaiwanTaiwanAsia
New BritainPapua New GuineaOceania
HainanChinaAsia
Prince of Wales (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
YuzhnyRussiaEurasia
VancouverCanadaNorth America
TimorTimor LesteAsia
SicilyItalyEurope
Kuganajuup Qikiqtanga (Somerset, Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
SardiniaItalyEurope
KotelnyRussiaEurasia
ShikokuJapanAsia
HalmaheraIndonesiaAsia
SeramIndonesiaAsia
New CaledoniaFranceEurope
Bathurst (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
Prince PatrickCanadaNorth America
SumbawaIndonesiaAsia
NordaustlandetNorwayEurope
October RevolutionRussiaEurasia
FloresIndonesiaAsia
King William (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
NegrosPhilippinesAsia
SamarPhilippinesAsia
BangkaIndonesiaAsia
Yos SudarsoPapua New GuineaOceania
PanayPhilippinesAsia
Ellef Ringnes (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
PalawanPhilippinesAsia
BolshevikRussiaEurasia
Bylot (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
JamaicaCaribbeanNorth America
SumbaIndonesiaAsia
Viti LevuFijiOceania
Hawai'I (Big Island)United StatesNorth America
Cape BretonCanadaNorth America
MindoroPhilippinesAsia
Prince CharlesCanadaNorth America
Kodiak (Alaska)United StatesNorth America
CyprusCyprus, United KingdomEurope
KomsomoletsRussiaEurasia
CorsicaFranceEurope
BougainvillePapua New GuineaOceania
Puerto RicoUnited StatesNorth America
BuruIndonesiaAsia
DiskoGreenlandEurope
ChiloéChileSouth America
CreteGreeceEurope
AnticostiCanadaNorth America
Cornwallis (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
ZealandDenmarkEurope
Latangai (New Ireland)Papua New GuineaOceania
LeytePhilippinesAsia
Prince of Wales (Alaska)United StatesNorth America
Desolation (Kerguelen)Antarctic Lands, FranceAntarctic
Isla Soledad/ East FalklandArgentinaSouth America
GrahamCanadaNorth America
WellingtonChileSouth America
Novaya Sibir (New Siberian)RussiaEurasia
Yelmalner/ MelvilleAustraliaOceania
Coats (Nunavut)CanadaNorth America
Prince EdwardCanadaNorth America
Vanua LevuFijiOceania
Chichagof (Alaska)United StatesNorth America
BaliIndonesiaAsia
GuadalcanalSolomon IslandsOceania

It’s the Island Life for Many

North America dominates with 32 islands out of the top 100, but there’s a catch — twelve of them are uninhabitable, thanks to the frigid Arctic temperatures.

Throw the number of people into the mix and the regional overview gets even more interesting. Compared to the rest of the world, Asian islands are teeming with life.

  • 28 Asian islands
    Total population: 510.4 million
  • 14 European islands
    Total population: 83.8 million
  • 32 North American islands
    Total population: 40.7 million
  • 12 Oceania islands
    Total population: 18.3 million

Taking things a step further, we’ve remixed the visualization based on population density.

Click below to view the full-size version.

Biggest Islands Sorted by Population Density

The most populated island in the world, Java is filled to the brim with 141 million people — that’s over a thousand people per square kilometer. This is in part thanks to the capital city Jakarta being located on the island, but experts warn those days may be short-lived. By 2050, scientific models predict that 95% of the city may be underwater, and that Indonesia must scramble to find a new capital.

To finish, here is the 20 most dense islands on the list, in terms of population density.

Rank by DensityIslandCountriesPopulationArea (km²)People per km²
#1JavaIndonesia141,000,000138,7931,015.9
#2BaliIndonesia4,225,0005,780731.0
#3TaiwanTaiwan23,571,00036,193651.3
#4ZealandDenmark3,749,2007,031533.2
#5LuzonPhilippines53,336,134109,965485.0
#6HonshuJapan104,000,000227,960456.2
#7PanayPhilippines4,477,24712,011372.8
#8KyushuJapan12,970,47936,753352.9
#9Puerto RicoUnited States3,195,0009,104350.9
#10NegrosPhilippines4,414,13113,310331.6
#11Sri LankaSri Lanka21,440,00065,610 326.8
#12Great BritainUnited Kingdom66,040,000209,331315.5
#13HispaniolaDominican Republic, Haiti21,396,00076,192 280.8
#14JamaicaCaribbean2,890,00010,992262.9
#15MindanaoPhilippines25,537,69197,530261.8
#16HainanChina8,670,00033,920 255.6
#17ShikokuJapan3,845,53418800204.5
#18SicilyItaly5,057,00025,711196.7
#19FloresIndonesia1,831,00013,540135.2
#20SamarPhilippines1,751,26713,429130.4

The Australia-Island Debate

Upon first publishing this over two years ago, the most common feedback we heard came from our friends Down Under.

In school, many Australians learned that their beloved country was an “island continent”, and naturally felt it should be included on the list of the world’s 100 biggest islands.

As with anything, there are different schools of thought on this. Upon digging deeper, we believed that Encyclopedia Britannica had a explanatory take on the issue:

“Most geographers consider islands and continents to be separate things. An island is a mass of land that is both ‘entirely surrounded by water’ and also ‘smaller than a continent.’ By that definition, Australia can’t be an island because it’s already a continent.”
–Encyclopedia Britannica

There are, of course, opposing arguments that could be had—but at least this gives some perspective on why Australia was likely excluded from this particular list.

This post was first published in 2019. We have since updated it, adding in new content for 2021.

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Misc

Visualizing the Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

This infographic shows you the odds of dying from a variety of accidents, including car crashes, bee stings, and more.

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Infographic: The Odds of Dying from Various Accidents

Fatal accidents account for a significant number of deaths in the U.S. every year. For example, nearly 43,000 Americans died in traffic accidents in 2021.

Without the right context, however, it can be difficult to properly interpret these figures.

To help you understand your chances, we’ve compiled data from the National Safety Council, and visualized the lifetime odds of dying from various accidents.

Data and Methodology

The lifetime odds presented in this graphic were estimated by dividing the one-year odds of dying by the life expectancy of a person born in 2020 (77 years).

Additionally, these numbers are based on data from the U.S., and likely differ in other countries.

Type of AccidentLifetime odds of dying (1 in #)
Motor vehicle accident101
Complications of medical and surgical care798
Alcohol poisoning1,606
Accidental building fire1,825
Choking on food2,745
Drowning in swimming pool5,782
Sunstroke6,368
Accidental firearm discharge7,998
Drowning10,386
Airplane accident11,756
Bee or wasp sting57,825
Dog attack69,016
Lightning strike138,849

For comparison’s sake, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292,000,000. In other words, you are 4000x more likely to die by a lightning strike over your lifetime than to win the Powerball lottery.

Continue reading below for further context on some of these accidents.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., with a 1 in 101 chance of dying. This is quite a common way of dying, especially when compared to something like bee stings (1 in 57,825).

Unfortunately, a major cause of vehicle deaths is impaired driving. The CDC reports that 32 Americans are killed every day in crashes involving alcohol, which equates to one death every 45 minutes.

For further context, consider this: 30% of all traffic-related deaths in 2020 involved alcohol-impaired drivers.

Drowning

The odds of drowning in a swimming pool (1 in 5,782) are significantly higher than those of drowning in general (1 in 10,386). According to the CDC, there are 4,000 fatal drownings every year, which works out to 11 deaths per day.

Drowning also happens to be a leading cause of death for children. It is the leading cause for kids aged 1-4, and second highest cause for kids aged 5-14.

A rather surprising fact about drowning is that 80% of fatalities are male. This has been attributed to higher rates of alcohol use and risk-taking behaviors.

Accidental Firearm Discharge

Lastly, let’s look at accidental firearm deaths, which have lifetime odds of 1 in 7,998. That’s higher than the odds of drowning (general), as well as dying in an airplane accident.

This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, since the U.S. has the highest rates of gun ownership in the world. More importantly, these odds highlight the importance of properly securing one’s firearms, as well as learning safe handling practices.

As a percentage of total gun-related deaths (45,222 in 2020), accidental shootings represent a tiny 1%. The two leading causes are suicide (54%) and homicide (43%).

Interested in learning more about death? Revisit one of our most popular posts of all time: Visualizing the History of Pandemics.

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