The Island With Territories Belonging To Two Or More Nations

The Pacific island of New Guinea is the world's second largest, and is shared by Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
The Pacific island of New Guinea is the world's second largest, and is shared by Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

The division of islands into territories between more than one political power is an ancient affair. While some of the formerly divided islands have been unified, some newer islands become divided. Previously divided islands include Corsica, Sardinia, Tobago, Ternate, and Long Island. Most of the current divisions in islands occurred during the colonial era. These territories exist independently of each other with different political administrations, mainly those of the occupying countries. Some island territories, however, are allowed some level of political autonomy.

New Guinea

With an area of 303,381 square miles, the Pacific island of New Guinea is the world’s second largest Island by area. The island is politically divided between two countries: Indonesia and Papua New Guinea into roughly equal halves. Indonesia occupies the western half of the island with Papua New Guinea occupying the eastern half. The first division of the island occurred before WWI when the British, Germans and the Dutch colonial powers occupied the island. Later, Australia acquired the British and German sections renaming it as the territory of Papua. After its independence, Indonesia acquired the Dutch section of New Guinea amidst controversy in 1963. Eastern New Guinea became a territory of Papua New Guinea in 1975.


Borneo is the world’s third largest island with political divisions amongst three countries. The island occupies an area of 287,000 square miles 73% of which is an Indonesian territory. Malaysia occupies 26% of the island with Brunei occupying the remaining 1%. During the colonial and world war eras, Borneo came under various colonial powers including the British and the Dutch. The Japanese occupation of Borneo during the Second World War attracted rebellion from the people leading to executions of different groups especially the Chinese and Malays. The southern section, previously a Dutch territory became a territory of the independent Indonesia in 1945. Malaysian Borneo came into being after the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. Northern Borneo, Brunei, attained independence in 1984 becoming the third country in Borneo Island.


Ireland is a north Atlantic island located in Western Europe. The island occupies an area of 32,595 square miles making it the largest in the British Isles. Ireland is divided between the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland occupies the largest part of the island- 27,133 square miles. The republic was established as the Irish Free State in 1922 under the Anglo-Irish treaty and declared as an independent state in 1949 under the title, the Republic of Ireland. The remaining area of the island is a UK territory under the legal jurisdiction of the sovereign state of Northern Ireland. In the Anglo-Irish treaty, Northern Ireland declined to become part of the Irish Free State, preferring instead to remain under the UK.


Hispaniola is a Caribbean island of the Great Antilles covering an area of 29,418 square miles. The island is divided politically between the mainly Spanish Dominican Republic and Haiti- French. The Dominican Republic is the eastern section of the island covering an area of 18,704 square miles. The Dominican Republic has the leading tourism sector within the Caribbean region. The Republic of Haiti occupies an area of 10,714 square miles of the western region of the island of Hispaniola.

One Island, Different Countries

The administrative powers within the island determine the economic and political stability of their territories. It is, therefore, common for one section of an island to be more developed economically compared to its other area that belongs to a different country. Other divided islands include Timor, Cyprus, Saint Martin, and Kataja.

The Island With Territories Belonging To Two Or More Nations

RankIslandCountries (percentage of island's area)
1New Guinea Indonesia (53.52%), Papua New Guinea (46.48%)
2Borneo Indonesia (73%), Malaysia (26%), Brunei (1%)
3Ireland Ireland (83%) United Kingdom (17%)
4Hispaniola Dominican Republic (64%) Haiti (36%)
5(Isla Grande de) Tierra del Fuego Chile (56%), Argentina (44%)
6Timor Indonesia (53%), East Timor (47%)
7CyprusDe jure Republic of Cyprus (97%), United Kingdom (3%)
8Dall Island United States (<100%) Canada (>0%)
9Sebatik Island Indonesia, Malaysia,
10Usedom Germany (79%), Poland (21%)
11Saint Martin France (61%), Kingdom of the Netherlands (39%)
12Kataja (including Inakari) Finland Sweden
13Passport Island (Middle Island), King Fahd Causeway Saudi Arabia Bahrain
14Märket Finland (50%) Sweden (50%)
15Koiluoto Finland (>50%) Russia (<50%)
16Musura Island Ukraine (>50%) Romania (<50%)
17Rotten Sea islandsDe facto Russia (Crimea) (>50%) (Disputed) Ukraine (<50%)
18one of the shoals in Adam's Bridge India Sri Lanka

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