A Big Cluster of Islands

An Archipelago

Image Credit: Flickr user Dmitry Teslya, via CC

Many a times islands are formed close to each other in large clusters. This group of islands is called an archipelago. It is pronounced as ahr-kuh-pel-uh-goh. Tricky huh! say it a few times, and you will get it :) Did you know that even the smallest archipelago has about thousand islands!!

So what possibly creates a cluster of so many scattered islands?

Most often, they are created by some volcanic activity. Lava eruptions are believed to have created some archipelagos millions of years ago.

Some other times, small land masses get separated from a huge land mass due to tectonic displacement.

Erosion could be another reason. It is the process where wind or water flow carry the soil with them and deposit soil it in other locations.

An archipelago may be isolated islands, in the sea or it can be a cluster of islands closer to a landmass.

In Burma(Myanmar), along the border with Thailand, lies the Mergui Archipelago. The archipelago in the Andaman Sea is made up of more than 800 islands.

Image Credit: NASA Goddard, via CC

Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are the five largest modern countries that are mainly archipelagos.

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago that has about 17,000 islands. The smallest would be probably Maldives with about 1,200 islands.

The archipelago with the most islands is the Archipelago Sea in Finland.


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