Generally speaking, an island is a piece of land surrounded by water, but different names are given to it. An island in a lake is called an “ait” or “eyot,” while a small island off the seashore is known as a “holm.” A group of islands is known as an “archipelago,” and very small islands that are too tiny to be inhabited are called “cays,” “islets,” “skerries,” and “keys.” Islands have always been objects of awe and have found a place in many literary works. This list of intriguing islands is mind-blowing. Did you know that on the island of Malta there once lived giant swans and dwarf elephants? Read on to learn more.
1. Isle Royale is an island in Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes in the US. It has a surface area of 82,100 square kilometers. In the northwest part of Lake Superior, there lies Isle Royale, the largest natural island in the water body and the 33rd largest in the US. The 72-kilometer-long and 14-kilometer-wide island has interior lakes, Siskiwit Lake being the largest of them all. Siskiwit Lake is spread over an area of 16.8 square kilometers and is famous for fishing. Siskiwit Lake contains many islands of which Ryan Island is the largest. On Ryan Island, there is a seasonal pond called the “Moose Flats” which contains a huge boulder called the “Moose Boulder.” When the Moose Flats floods, the Moose Boulder becomes the largest island in the largest lake on the largest island in the largest lake on the largest island in the largest lake in the world by surface area.
2. Tanna is an island in the South Pacific
With “USA” painted on the young men’s bare chests in red, the “cargo cult” of Tanna island in Vanuatu country worships John Frum, a dead American soldier who served in the World War II. The elders adorn themselves in American military uniforms, and together all of them march around a pole and then raise the American flag. On February 15 every year, they practice this tradition to pay homage to John Frum’s spirit whom they consider to be more “more powerful than Jesus.” They believe that Frum’s spirit will return to them one day and bring some good luck and gifts from America. They are expecting radios, TVs, trucks, boats, watches, iceboxes, medicine, and even Coca-Cola! The cult was formed in the 1940s and has around 6,000 members.
3. Mackinac Island in Michigan
Mackinac island’s native name is “Michilimackinac,” and it once was an important center of commerce of the Great Lakes fur trade. It was also where two battles during the War of 1812 were fought. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, 80% of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park. Since 1898, almost all motorized vehicles were prohibited there. People on the island travel on foot, bicycle, or use skates and roller blades. They also travel in horse-drawn carriages across the 13-kilometer-long road that forms the perimeter of the island. M-185, the highway on the island, is the US’ only state highway without motorized vehicles allowed on it.
4. An island located north of Iceland named Kolbeinsey
Around 10 kilometers off the coast of Iceland lies a small islet, Kolbeinsey. Named after a man, Kolbein Sigmundsson, who died with his men on the island after his ship was destroyed there, it is the northernmost point of Iceland and is barren. It is predicted that by 2020, the island will completely disappear considering its current rate of erosion. No one knows the island’s original size, but it is believed that it was formed during the late-Pleistocene or Holocene era. When it was first measured in 1616, it was 700 meters long and 100 meters wide. In 1903, the island had halved in size. In 1985, it was measured as 39 meters across. In 2001, the island was just 10.7 meters in diameter.
5. The Line Islands of Kiribati
The world follows the UTC—Coordinated Universal Time or Universal Time Coordinated—to mark the time in different regions. UTC+14 is the earliest time zone on Earth, and it is only the Line Islands of Kiribati that have that time zone all year round. Samoa in Oceania also has the time zone but only during the summers as daylight saving time. For the rest of the months, it follows UTC+13. The difference between the earliest time zone, UTC +14, and the latest time zone, UTC-12, is one day and two hours.
6. Spitsbergen Island in Norway
Longyearbyen is a town in Norway’s Spitsbergen Island which has extremely cold temperatures. The town, with a population of 2,000 people, has made burials after death on the island illegal. This is because Longyearbyen has such a cold climate that the temperatures can drop to as low as – 46.3° C. Because of this, the buried bodies do not decompose. In 1950, the law was enacted so that diseases of the deceased would not spread through the bodies that did not decompose (some local newspapers have reported that the bodies that were buried during the Spanish flu in 1918, still have traces of it in them) to the locals. Anyone who is nearing death is sent to the mainland immediately. But if death occurs in Longyearbyen, no one is buried there.
7. The island of Yap
Out in the Pacific Ocean, belonging to the Federated States of Micronesia, lies an island called Yap that has aroused the curiosities of economists. While the world obsesses over gold, silver, and currency notes, the people of Yap use stones as currency. Centuries ago, explorers from Yap found limestone on one of their expeditions. They carved out the limestone into stone discs and brought them back home. Sometime after that when people needed something everyone would agree on to use as currency, stones were declared as “money.” For them, a piece of stone is not something people would use for everyday use. It is extremely precious.
8. Residents of La Gomera in the Canary Islands
For those who don’t live in La Gomera in the Canary Islands, distinguishing between bird whistles and human whistles can get difficult. The residents of La Gomera talk in a complex, whistling language called “Silbo Gomero” that has two to four vowels and four to ten consonants. The whistles can be distinguished through the level of their pitch and the duration of their continuity. “Silbo” in Spanish means “whistle.” The language that now has the official protection of being an “intangible cultural heritage” was once at risk of going extinct due to the advent of technology like the telephone. But in 1999, thanks to revitalization efforts, the residents of La Gomera continue to use the language for personal and public communication. It can be heard from as far away as five kilometers. Its primary function was to overcome the obstacles of distance and terrain when it came to communication.
9. Aoshima Island in Japan
In 2018, only 13 people were living on Aoshima Island in Japan, and they were all over the age of 75. But the number of cats on the island was between 120-130. Visited by people who love cats and who come there to feed them, the 1.6-kilometer-wide island is a 30-minute ferry ride away from Port Nagahama in Japan. The large number of felines is a result of them not being spayed and neutered (something the authorities did in 2018) after they were brought to the island to combat rodents on fishing boats. They reproduced in large numbers and never left.