As per the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus, a coastline is defined as “the particular shape of the coast, especially as seen from above, from the sea, or on a map”. The measure of a country’s coastline varies with the scale at which it is measured. Smaller scale maps yield a lower value of coastline measurement than larger scale maps. When talking of "scale", this is referring to point-to-point connections made along a given country's coastline, which are then summed to give the total coastline length. The aforementioned discrepancies are examples of fractal behavior, since the larger the scale of a map is, the more frequent will be the indentations visible on a coastline, and therefore the greater will be the measured length of the coastline. Hence, when countries are compared based on their coastline measurements, all data are taken from measurements made on maps of identical scale. The countries listed below have the longest total coastlines in the world, and these hold great cultural, military, and economic importance for each of them.
10. China - 14,500 km/9,009 miles
China has the 10th longest coastline in the world. It is 14,500 km long. The country has coasts on the South China Sea, East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea. The coastline stretches from the Gulf of Tonkin to the Bohai Gulf in the south to north direction. The southern part of the country's coastline is more irregular than the northern part. The latter is mostly low-lying but in certain parts, mountains and hills start from the coast. The southern part is dotted with river deltas, mountains and hills, and rocky areas.
9. New Zealand - 15,134 km/9,404 miles
New Zealand ranks 9th on this list of countries with the longest coastlines. It has a 15,134 km long coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea. The country's coastline is quite varied ranging from sandy beaches to magnificent fjords, rugged headlands, and precipitous cliffs. The coastal area is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna that are often protected within reserves established in and around the coastal zone.
8. United States - 19,924 km/12,380 miles
The United States of America is one of the largest countries of the world, and is composed of 50 states, fiver major territories, and several minor territories. The country has a total coastline of around 19,924 km, and 23 states of the country have a coastline to call their own. The country shares its coastline with the Atlantic Ocean on the east, the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Arctic Ocean to the north of Alaska, and the Gulf of Mexico towards the southwest. Alaska has the longest coastline (6,640 miles) among the U.S. states, and shares its borders with the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. Florida and California have the second (1,350 miles) and third (840 miles) longest coastlines of all the coastal states in the country, respectively.
7. Australia - 25,760 km/16,007 miles
Australia, an island nation in Oceania, has a coastline that totals 25,760 km long. The country shares its coastline with the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Southern Oceans. A major section of the Australian population is based along the coastlines of the country. The coastal landscape here is quite varied, inclusive of picturesque sandy beaches, mangrove swamps, and rocky cliffs across different sections of the country’s coast. There are about 10,685 beaches in Australia, as well as numerous caves, coves, and unique land formations along the shores of the country, many of which serve as popular tourist spots. Today, the leisure industry and fishing industry each employ a large number of Australians living along the country’s coastlines. The Great Barrier Reef, located off the eastern coast of Australia, is the world’s largest coral reef system, and is regarded as one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.
6. Japan - 29,751 km/18,486 miles
Japan, a heavily populated and technologically advanced island nation off the coast of East Asia, lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, between the Sea of Okhotsk in the north and East China Sea in the south. The country has a 29,751 km-long coastline forming the boundaries of its 6,852 islands. Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu are the largest, and most economically significant, islands of the nation. The northern and western coasts of Honshu, and the coastline of Hokkaido, are quite straight in the nature of their respective shapes. Meanwhile, ages of tides and storms create significant irregularities in the coastline of Kyushu and eastern Honshu. Most of the major urban centers of Japan are built along the country’s coastline, which also house some of the largest international ports. Fishing, aquaculture, and whaling are some of the major occupations supporting the livelihoods of the populations based along Japan’s coastlines.
5. Philippines - 36,289 km/22,549 miles
An island country located in the western Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southeast Asia, the Philippines, with its 7,641 islands, has a coastline of 36,289 km. The coastline of this country is highly irregular, being indented with countless islets, bays, and gulfs. The coastal areas of the country are the most densely inhabited, and roughly 60% of the population of the country, and most of its large cities, are found based along the coastlines of the country. A large number of Filipinos depend on coastal fisheries for their livelihoods, and about 40-60% of the total fish catch of the country is contributed by the coastal fishing activities. The arresting beauty of the shores of the Philippines also draws thousands of tourists to this country, economically benefiting the nation in turn.
4. Russia - 37,653 km/ 23,396 miles
Russia, a sovereign state in northern Eurasia, has an extensive coastline that is 37,653 km long. The coastline of Russia is shared with the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and Sea of Azov to the southwest. A large proportion of the population of the country is settled along the coastline, with a number of major Russian cities, including St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Yalta, Magadan, Kaliningrad, Baltiysk, and others, located along the shores of the country.
3. Norway - 58,133 km/36,122 miles
The Kingdom of Norway, mostly located in the western part of the Scandinavian Peninsula and inclusive of the Jan Mayen island and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, has a total coastline of 58,133km. The mainland of the country faces the North Atlantic Ocean towards the east, and the Barents Sea towards the north.The coastline of Norway is highly irregular, and ruggedly indented with numerous fjords and islands all along its coast. A large section of the Norwegian population lives along the coast. The capital of the country, Oslo, is also based towards the top of the Oslo Fjord. The Norwegian coastline is also a popular tourist destination, and one attracting visitors from all over the world to watch the majestic landscape along the coastline, and also catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights along the northern coasts of the country.
2. Indonesia - 99,083 km/61,567 miles
Though not in the top ten countries in terms of total land area, the large number of islands in Indonesia qualify it to rank as the third among the countries in the world with the longest coastlines. The coastline of the country is approximately 99,083 km long, and the areas along the Indonesian coasts exhibit varying patterns of landscapes, influenced by natural factors and human intervention alike. Mangrove forests grow extensively along the coasts of Kalimantan, Papua, and northeastern Sumatra. Prawn cultivation, meanwhile, is common along the coasts of northern Java and southwestern Sulawesi. The most picturesque coastal areas of Indonesia, which are also the country’s most popular tourist destinations, occur along the smaller islands in eastern Indonesia, the southern portions of Java island, and the island of Sumatra.
1. Canada - 202,080 km/125,567 miles
Canada, the second largest country in the world by total area, is comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada also has the longest total coastline among all of the countries of the world. The country’s 202,080 km long coastline fronts on the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Arctic Ocean to the north. Most of the Canadian provinces and territories, with the exception of Alberta and Saskatchewan, have their own respective coastlines. The coastline of the country exhibits varied landscapes across different parts of the country, and most shoreline types are present around the Canadian coastlines, with the exception of such tropical and subtropical ecosystems as mangrove swamps and coral reefs.