A peninsula is an interesting land formation that juts out from a larger tract of land and into the nearby water. Almost an island but not quite, the water, be it sea, ocean, or river, surrounds the jutting land on 3 sides. Peninsulas include capes and promontories (large, raised pieces of land), and can belong to one or several countries. This article takes a look at some of the largest peninsulas in the world.
The World's Largest Peninsulas
Without a doubt, the largest peninsula in the world is the Arabian Peninsula at 1,250,006 square miles. The Arabian Peninsula is connected to the mainland Asian continent and surrounded on all sides by the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea. The northern side of the area flows into the Arabian Desert and serves as the unofficial border of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The peninsula itself has a varying landscape that includes a central plateau, vast deserts, the Hejaz mountain range, and marshy coastal lands. The harsh climate makes it unsuitable for agriculture, however, goat, sheep, and camel herding are common. The Arabian Peninsula, made up of 9 different countries, plays a big part in oil and gas extraction and refining.
Deccan (Indian) Peninsula
The second largest peninsula is 800,004 square miles. The Deccan Peninsula is located in the southern part of central India. The Western and Eastern Ghats Mountain ranges make up part of the peninsula, are covered in forests, and rich in biodiversity. This area is also the habitat of several threatened species from elephants to crested-serpent eagles. The Deccan Peninsula is also made up of a large, protected tiger reserve. The climate on the Deccan Peninsula ranges from semi-arid to tropical. Principal agriculture here includes cotton, sugarcane, and rice.
After the Deccan Peninsula in India, the number 3 spot goes to the Indochina Peninsula which encompasses 748,553 square miles. This is the area often referred to as Southeast Asia and several countries are located here. These include Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. The Indochina Peninsula provides one of the most important trade routes in the region and boasts 3 waterways, 2 railroads, 6 highways, and 2 oil and gas pipelines to help facilitate economic activity. This peninsula also provides home to over 300 mammal species and 1,000 different birds.
The Horn of Africa
Number 4 is the Horn of Africa, located in northeastern Africa. This land mass has 726,975 square miles surrounded by the Arabian Sea. The area includes the nations of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea. Each of these countries has a combined population of around 115 million. The Horn of Africa is covered by mountain ranges and the low areas are hot and dry. Various species of plants and animals live on this peninsula ranging from leopards to antelopes. This region of Africa hosts the largest number of endemic reptiles than any other (over 285 species!). Residents of the Horn of Africa largely participate in livestock herding and the key exports are coffee, bananas, and livestock.
Other Major Peninsulas From Around The World
The previously mentioned land masses are the four biggest in terms of area size. The remaining large peninsulas can be found all over the world. Numbers 6 through 10 on the list are the Alaskan Peninsula with an area of 579,153 square miles, the Labrador Peninsula (540,543 square miles), Scandinavia (289,577 square miles), The Balkans (257,414 square miles), the Iberian Peninsula (224,7711 square miles), and the Korean Peninsula (85,270 square miles). Other large peninsulas can be found in the chart below.
Importance of Peninsulas
Whether large or small, wide or narrow, peninsulas are unique geographic locations. Every continent in the world has a peninsula that was formed by rising or falling sea levels. These land formations often host wide ranges of flora and fauna, many threatened or endangered. Due to their unique geographic positioning, peninsular lands are often important in international trade.