More about Alaskan Islands

August 10th, 2009

Totem pole detail, Ketchikan, Revillagigedo now has more information about Alaskan islands.

Alaska is extremely well-supplied with islands, with more large islands than any other state, and more island acreage than any other state, even Hawaii.

Alaska pages now include:

(Image copyright — usable with attribution and link)

The World’s Most Densely Populated Island

August 8th, 2009

A nod from the New York Times travel blog yesterday: it noted my designation of Hong Kong’s Ap Lei Chau (Aberdeen Island) as the world’s most densely populated island.

That record has so far held, but, given that Ap Lei Chau includes some undeveloped hills, an island more heavily covered with highrises could surpass this island’s population density.

(Image courtesey Dave Berezansky)

The Rights of Ghost Islands

July 29th, 2009

Ocean by Rappensuncle (Flickr)Professor James Lee asked an interesting question earlier this year: will islands that cease to exist due to rising sea levels still have sovereignty based on their former existence?

He wrote:

Some remote islands — particularly such Pacific islands as Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, the Maldives and many others — may be partially or entirely submerged beneath rising ocean waters. Do they lose their sovereignty if their territory disappears? After all, governments in exile have maintained sovereign rights in the past over land they didn’t control (think of France and Poland in World War II). Nor are these new questions far away in the future. The first democratically elected president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, is already planning to use tourism revenue to buy land abroad — perhaps in India, Sri Lanka or Australia — to house his citizens.

Absolute sovereignty, territorial waters, and marine exclusive economic zones are all ultimately based on land in current international law. Will a strip of the northern Indian Ocean remain Maldivian even if the islands begin to vanish? Will the Maldivians and others fund their displaced lives with the mineral rights to the waters that swallow their homes?

(Note that Tonga is not in danger of fully disappearing, as it has several substantial, raised islands. Here are a few more islands that might be.)

The resources in play are expanding: as The Economist wrote about in May, the maritime claims are being extended to continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from land. Huge areas of ocean are being claimed, with rights to oil, metal, and seabed methane hydrates, often based on the locations of islands. While some issues are being worked out amicably, the move could intensify various island disputes, such as those around the multiple claims to the South China Sea.

(Image courtesy Rappensuncle — Creative Commons use via Flickr)

Bleriot: 100 Years since the First Island Flight

July 25th, 2009

Bleriot by Smudge_9000 on FlickrToday is the centennial of Louis Bleriot’s making the first powered flight to the island of Great Britain, from France across the English Channel.

Balloons had made the trip before, but this first flight via airplane changed island geography. Ships were no longer the only means of reaching them, and isolation decreased rapidly as the speed of aircraft increased. And, in the First and Second World Wars, Great Britain and other islands were to discover that airplanes greatly diminished their status as fortresses.

It is not clear whether this was the first powered flight to any island; did aviators fly before this to the Isle of Wight, Long Island, or Manhattan, for instance?

(Image courtesy Smudge 9000, Flickr)

World Islands Flickr Pool

July 17th, 2009

I’ve created a new photo pool on Flickr, affiliated with the photo stream.

Ika Island and Goat Island, WashingtonPeople have been generous with adding their images to the pool. It may not be the largest island group on Flickr, but it may be the most diverse: it already includes islands from 125 countries and separately administered territories, from Albania to Zimbabwe. I am particularly pleased to have Andorra — a landlocked mountain country — and Libya, which has almost no islands. These are the countries:

Ashmore and Cartier Islands

Read the rest of this entry »

Private Islands a Little Cheaper

July 10th, 2009

Horseshoe Island, Door Co., WisconsinJason Notte of reports that the economic crisis is driving down the cost of private islands.

Alexis Pappas of the island real estate firm Private Islands reports that many islands have dropped by half in price. Granted, it’s still not bargain basement time: while the owners of 4.4-acre Monarch Caye off Belize asked for $5 million, they still got $1 million for the island. And, while the Onassis family didn’t get $21 million for Nafiska Island, they are still asking $10 million.

Perhaps You Know: What’s Klingon for “Island”?

July 8th, 2009

Klingon sign by FalashadI have collected the word for “island” in over 100 languages, including some fictional ones, but Klingon eludes me.

This word does not seem to be in printed or online Klingon dictionaries, and someone translating the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song into Klingon used “world” in place of “island.”

(Image courtesy Falashad, Flickr)

Paugnang Island, Nuvavut

June 29th, 2009

A photographer on Flickr wondered about this little Canadian island:

View Larger Map

This is Paugnang Island, a small, barren island east of Padloping Island, off southeast Baffin Island. It is about 7.5 sq km / 2.9 sq miles.

Despite its small size, it rises some 667 m / 2,188 feet. It is steep-sided except at the south end, but has a relatively flat top.

Source: Toporama, Natural Resources Canada; area measurements by

Eight Disappearing Islands?

April 18th, 2009

Maldives from spaceThe website Treehugger recently suggested eight places — low-lying islands, more specifically — that will “soon” be uninhabitable due to climate change.

They are:

  • the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean
  • Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Carteret Islands (off PNG), and Majuro Atoll (Marshall Islands) in the Pacific
  • Lamu and Pate, Kenyan coastal islands
  • Bhola, in southern Bangladesh
  • Key West, off southern Florida

“Soon” is a relative term here–many of these places would still be inhabitable for decades, under current sea-level rise forecasts.

The Pacific islands involve relatively small numbers of people; they could actually be moved, though this would involve irreparable cultural destruction. Bangladesh illustrates another level of impact: millions of people live on these low-lying islands, and tens of millions in vulnerable coastal areas.

This is of course a tiny part of the problem; hundreds of thousands of islands are in danger of disappearing or greatly shrinking in the face of sea-level rise.

(Thanks to Stu Gagnon for the tip.)

Image: Maldives from space, courtesy NASA

A New Island in Tonga?

March 21st, 2009

Tonga's flagThis week an undersea volcano began erupting in Tonga, six miles off the main island of Tongatapu, near the small volcanic islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai.

It has formed new land, but its status is unclear:

  • Some sources report a new island. That would mean that it was the world’s newest volcanic island.
  • Pictures and this account suggest that it may have started as two vents, one in the sea and the other on Hunga Ha’apai, and that any new land created was soon joined to this pre-existing island. This account says Hunga Ha’apai has grown by thousands of square feet.

National Geographic has video, as does Scientific American.