Europe’s geography features many islands of varying sizes. Europe has some of the world’s biggest islands like Great Britain and Iceland. The largest European islands by area are as follows:
With an area of 9,251 square km, Cyprus is Europe’s tenth biggest island in size. It is located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea and is the Mediterranean’s third most populous island. The population of Cyprus, as estimated in 2016, was 1,170,125 people. The most notable features of the landscape of Cyprus are two mountain ranges, the Kyrenia Range and the Troodos Mountains. A central plain, the Mesaoria, lies between these two ranges. The 6,404 ft tall Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in this range.
With an area of 14,443 square km, Nordaustlandet is the second biggest island in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Vestfonna and Austfonna are two massive ice caps which cover most of the island. The remaining part of the island is covered by tundra. No permanent human settlements exist in Nordaustlandet. Reindeer and walruses are, however, found in large numbers. The entire island is part of the Nordaust-Svalbard Nature Reserve which is Norway’s largest preserve area.
An autonomous region of Italy, the island of Sicily is Europe’s eighth largest island and the Mediterranean’s second largest island. The island is located south of the Corsica island in the western part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Tyrrhenian Sea and the Sea of Sardinia, both part of the Mediterranean Sea, lie to the east and west of Sardinia, respectively. Cagliari is the capital city of Sardinia. The island has a total area of 24,090 square km and a population of 1,656,003 people. The coastline of Sardinia is 1,849 km long.
An autonomous region of Italy, Sicily is located in the Mediterranean Sea and is separated from mainland Italy by the Strait of Messina. The island is volcanically active with Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano being its most notable geographical feature. Sicily covers an area of 25,711 square km and has a population of 5,048,553 people.
6. Yuzhny Island
Europe’s sixth largest island by area, the Yuzhny Island is part of the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean. It is the archipelago’s southern island and covers an area of 33,275 square km. The Yuzhny Island is separated from the larger Severny Island by the Matochkin Strait. The Barents Sea and the Kara Sea lie on either side of the island. Although the island served as the home of the Nenets people for centuries, the indigenous population of the island was cleared in the 1950’s to make the island a base of nuclear testing and research. The Yuzhny Island is an important nesting habitat for seabirds.
The island of Spitsbergen is the fifth largest European island by area. It is also the only permanently inhabited island of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The island has coastlines along the Greenland Sea, the Norwegian Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. The total area of the island is 37,673 square km. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement and administrative center of Spitsbergen. Ice covers most of the island and an Arctic climate prevails in the region. Some research and mining posts are located here and are temporarily inhabited by researchers and miners, respectively. Polar bears, reindeer, seabirds, and marine mammals live in the region. These species are protected within the limits of six national parks that encompass a large area of Spitsbergen.
4. Severny Island
A remote island located in the northern part of the Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, the Severny Island is Europe’s fourth largest island by area. The island is part of the protected area of the Russian Arctic National Park. The Severny Island encompasses an area of 48,904 square km. The Severny Island Ice Cap covers nearly 40% of the total area of the island. Several other glaciers and ice caps are present on the Severny. The island served as a base for nuclear weapons testing between 1958 and 1961. Currently, a Russian army base is located here. The island also has a meteorological station and a harbor.
Ireland, Europe’s third biggest island, is located in the North Atlantic Ocean. Politically, the island is divided into the sovereign nation of Ireland and Northern Ireland, a part of the UK. The total area covered by the island of Ireland is 84,421 square km. The human population of the island is 6,572,728. The island has a central plain surrounded by low-lying mountains. Several navigable rivers run through the island. The mild oceanic climate here supports lush vegetation.
Europe’s second-biggest island is Iceland which is located in the North Atlantic Ocean. Iceland’s population of 332,529 people live in an area of 103,000 square km. The geography of Iceland is highly varied and features mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, lava fields, and more. The island is both geologically and volcanically active. Tundra climate prevails over Iceland.
1. Great Britain
The island of Great Britain is situated in the Atlantic Ocean to the northwest of mainland Europe. The island has an area of 209,331 square km and a population of about 61 million people. The island is the world’s ninth largest island by area and the third largest by population. The island of Great Britain is part of the British Isles, an archipelago that also includes the island of Ireland and other surrounding islands. The island experiences a maritime climate with little variations in temperature all year round. Politically, the island is part of the UK and has most of England, Scotland, and Wales.