Archipelago vs. Island – The Difference Between

How an archipelago is different from an island

There are clear differences between the two words “archipelago” and “island”, even though people do tend to get them confused and sometimes think they mean the same thing. An island is a piece of land that is surrounded on all sides by water. An archipelago is a group of islands. Two of the best examples of archipelagos that can be found on the earth are the Hawaiian group of islands and the islands of the Caribbean. Trinidad and Tobago are the most southerly islands in the Caribbean archipelago.

Since an island is a part of an archipelago, you could say that each island in a group is a subset of the archipelago of which it is a part. There are different sizes of islands on the planet Earth. Some of them are quite large and there are those that are very small. If you put sixteen of the largest islands in the world together into one land mass, you would have an area that is larger than all the European continent.

There are also different varieties of islands:

  • Continental
  • Oceanic
  • Tectonic, and
  • Coral

Continental islands are formed from pieces of land that break off the continental shelf. The British Isles are an example of this type of island. Oceanic islands are created in the middle of the ocean when the ocean floor rises above sea level. Tectonic islands are formed by the movement of the earth’s crust, such as the way that Barbados was formed. Coral islands are formed by the actions of minute organisms called coral polyps that live in the sea.

Many of the archipelagos of the world have breathtaking scenery and spectacular beaches. With the groups of islands in tropical locations they are the setting for many beach resorts and are favorite vacation spots. One can conclude that an archipelago is a place of serenity and beauty.