Island

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An island (pronounced /ˈaɪlənd/) or isle (/ˈaɪl/) is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot /ˈaɪ.ət/ (also ait /ˈeɪt/), or holm. A grouping of geographically or geologically related islands is called an archipelago.

An island may still be described as such despite the presence of a land bridge, for example Singapore and its causeway, or the various Dutch delta islands, such as IJsselmonde. Some places may even retain "island" in their names for historical reasons after being connected to a larger landmass by a wide land bridge, such as Coney Island.

There are two main types of islands: continental islands and oceanic islands. There are also artificial islands. There is no standard of size which distinguishes islands from islets and continents.

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Etymology

The word island comes from Middle English iland, from Old English igland (from ig, similarly meaning 'island' when used independently, and -land carrying its contemporary meaning; cf. Dutch eiland ("island"), German Eiland ("small island")). However, the spelling of the word was modified in the 15th century due to an incorrect association with the etymologically unrelated Old French loanword isle, which itself comes from the Latin word insula.[1] Old English ig is actually a cognate of Latin aqua (water).[2]

Types of island

Continental islands

Continental islands are bodies of land that lie on the continental shelf of a continent. Examples include Greenland, Long Island, and Sable Island off North America; Barbados and Trinidad off South America; Great Britain, Ireland and Sicily off Europe; Sumatra, Borneo and Java off Asia; and New Guinea, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island off Australia.

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