Top 10 Largest Archipelagos In The World (2023)

An archipelago is a group of islands. The largest archipelagos in the world are therefore unique for a number of reasons: they have the largest number of islands banded together; they have the largest land area (when the total land area of their islands is calculated), and also they form intricate communities of people that share common cultures and languages, despite being separated by bodies of water.

Archipelagos have always been curious landmarks of nature; they evoke curiosity because the culture of the inhabitants often varies considerably from that of the mainland. The wildlife to be found on these islands are often different as well, especially when human activity is minimal or not nonexistent at all.

While some of these landmasses are located quite close to land, in which case they may be considered part of the mainland countries; many others are best described as small bits of land scattered in the sea.

Top 10 Largest Archipelagos In The World

1. Malay Archipelago 

The Malay Archipelago is the World’s largest archipelago, with more than 25,000 islands.  It has a land area of about 2,870,000 km2 (1,110,000 sq miles). The Malay Archipelago has many names: Indo-Australian Archipelago, East Indies, Nusantara, and Spices Archipelago. The Malay Archipelago is located in Southeast Asia and Melanesia.

The Malay Archipelago is situated right in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean, and is not too far away from China on the north, and Australia to the South.

The people of the Malay Archipelago are predominantly Austronesians (indigenous Australians) Negritos, Papuans, and Melanesians, as well as both Chinese, and Indians.

2. The Canadian Arctic Archipelago     

The Canadian Arctic Archipelago is a group of islands near Canada. It is also known as the Arctic Archipelago and comprises 36, 563 islands. The Canadian Arctic Archipelago has a total land area of about 1,424,500 km2 (550,000 sq. mi), making it one of the most significant gatherings of islands anywhere in the world.

The Canadian Arctic Archipelago lies to the North of Mainland Canada; located in the Arctic Ocean. It does not include Greenland which is an autonomous territory of Denmark.

This archipelago has a higher number of islands, but the islands do not have as much land area as the Malay Archipelago.

The Canadian Arctic Archipelago has been studied recently because of its role in the rising ocean levels. This is because there are numerous ice packs that have been melting because of global warming.

3. New Guinea Archipelago

The New Guinea Archipelago is an impressive assembly of islands located in Oceania in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, only about 150-kilometre away from Australia.

The New Guinea Archipelago is made up of New Guinea; which is the world’s second-largest island with an area of 785,753 km2, as well as several other smaller islands. This archipelago is unique not because of the number of islands, but because of the landmass.

The New Guinea Archipelago is heavily populated with more than 14 million inhabitants, and there are several big cities on these islands.

Water transportation is very well developed and organized; people frequently travel by boat from one island to another. The inhabitants are mostly Papuan and other Melanesians, and they speak several languages.

4. Japanese Archipelago

The Japanese Archipelago is a cluster of volcanic islands. The Japanese archipelago is made up of 6,852 islands that are mostly Japanese territory; as well as the Island of Sakhalin; which is under Russian administration. It covers about 3,000 km (1,900 mi).

The Japanese Archipelago is made up of inhabited islands that are all rich in history and culture; these have been part of the ancient feudal history of the Japanese people whose history dates back to when the country was ruled by warlords who often owned castles in parts of the islands, and fought against other families living on other islands.

5. The British Isles             

The British Isles is one of the largest islands in the world, it comprises of 6,000 islands, and 315,159 km2 of land. The most popular islands of this archipelago are Great Britain, Ireland, and the Isle of Man.

The British Islands are located in the North Atlantic Ocean just off the north-western coast of continental Europe. Inhabitants of the British Isles are called The British, and there are about 72 million of them.

The British Isles is a center of cultural importance; its history dates back to ancient times, and for centuries Britain has dominated the world; the British Empire spanned most of the new world, and Britain once ruled the world.

6. New Zealand  

New Zealand is the 12th largest island in the world and the surrounding islands also make it quite a big archipelago. There are about 600 islands making up Zealand, and the total land area is 268,021 km².  New Zealand is the seventh-largest island nation on earth, and there are two bigger than it in the Southern Hemisphere.

New Zealand has both Volcanic islands and islands with no known volcanic activity. The islands have a rich history dating back to ancient times, before the coming of Europeans. New Zealand has a population of about 5 million people, and they are a mix of various ethnicities.

7. Antilles

The Antilles is an archipelago located in the Caribbean Sea. The archipelago is made up of nearly 7000 small islands, and is divided into two; namely Greater Antilles and Smaller Antilles; this archipelago consists of some very popular islands such as Haiti, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, and so on.

As for land area; the Antilles measures about 210,000 km².

These islands have a rich history; they have been inhabited by native populations for thousands of years, and have been important trade routes for centuries. They have been occupied by various European powers such as the French, Spanish, and the British.

Even today, these islands are very important culturally; their music, dance, and culture are famous all over the world.

8. Novaya Zemlya                 

Novaya Zemlya is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. It is located in northern Russia, and it is in the extreme northeast of Europe. These islands have a diverse landscape; some of them consist of mountain peaks such as the Ural Mountain, while others are forest areas.

Much of the Novaya Zemlya is natural land, with very little evidence of human activity.

Novaya Zemlya has a total land area of 90,650 km² and is inhabited by about 2,429 people, most of who are involved in fishing, trapping, reindeer herding, polar bear hunting, and seal hunting. There are some military installations in the area.

9. Svalbard         

Svalbard is an archipelago in Norway; it measures a total land area of 61,022 km² and is mostly popular for its midnight sun in summer and polar lights in winter.

Svalbard is located in the Arctic Ocean, off the coast of Norway; to the north of mainland Europe. The population of Svalbard is 2,939, and the people have been considered Norwegians since 1925.

10. Sernaya Zemlya

Sernaya Zemlya is an archipelago in the Russian high Arctic. It is made up of about 75 small islands, the biggest among them being October Revolution, Bolshevik, Komsomolets, and Pioneer islands. The archipelago covers about 37,000 km2 and is located in the Arctic Ocean.



While the largest archipelagos in the world are mostly the result of volcanic activity several million or thousands of years ago, most of them have been settled by humans for centuries, and they have so many years of history behind them.

These territories usually have a common language and are usually home to rare animal species.