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Archipelago

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An archipelago is a landform which consists of a chain or cluster of islands. Archipelagoes usually occur in the open sea; less commonly a large land mass may neighbour them. Archipelagos are often volcanic, forming along ocean ridges or hotspots, but there are many other processes involved in their construction, including erosion and deposition.

The word comes from the Aegean Sea (Greek αρχιπέλαγος, Italian Arcipelago), which literally means "chief sea", from Greek arkhi (leader) and pelagos (sea). The Aegean Sea is located between Greece in the west and Turkey in the east.

Archipelagos may be found isolated in bodies of water or neighboring a large land mass. For example, Scotland has more than 700 islands surrounding its mainland which constitute an archipelago. Archipelagos are often volcanic, forming along island arcs generated by subduction zones or hotspots, but may also be the result of erosion, deposition, and land elevation. It really means a broad area of water containing several islands. Depending on their geological origin, islands forming archipelagos can be referred to as oceanic islands, continental fragments, and continental islands. Oceanic islands are mainly of volcanic origin. Continental fragments correspond to land masses that have separated from a continental mass due to tectonic displacement. Finally, sets of islands formed close to the coast of a continent are considered continental archipelagos when they form part of the same continental shelf so islands are just exposed continental shelf.

The five main archipelagos are Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, and the British Isles. The largest archipelagic state in the world, by area and population, is Indonesia. The archipelago with the most islands is the Archipelago Sea in Finland.


Examples of archipelagoes


See also

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