Ten of the World’s Most Unique Islands

The English-controlled island has the distinction of being the world’s most remote inhabited island.  The rugged, wind-swept landscape is not unlike that oof other islands found in the middle of the Atlantic.  Everyone on the island is a farmer and the land is communally-owned.

Gunkanjima: Island Has-Been



(images via archibase)

This tiny island (less than 1 kilometer in diameter) was once home to a crowded boomtown.  Miners who dug for coal on the island lived nearby in buildings arranged around narrow lanes.  When the mines were stripped of all their coal, workers simply left, leaving everything behind.  Travel is prohibited to Gunkanjima today, but the buildings still remain, eerily intact.

Dubai’s Large-Scale Sand Art



(images via imre solt, dubai architectureAlexander Heilner, NASA)

The super-wealthy emirate of Dubai has been the site of some outlandish and brash construction projects.  None of these were as spectacular as The Palm, a man-made island off the coast of the city.  It was shaped by taking sand from the sea floor and placing it in the shape of a gigantic palm tree.

Samosir: A Huge Island within a Huge Island



(images via nasa and caingram)

Samosir Island is located in the middle of Lake Toba, a large lake on the large island of Sumatra, which is part Indonesia.  The island covers as much surface area of the lake as the water does.  But it is the unique culture and idyllic landscapes that truly make this one of the world’s most unique islands.  There are also two small lakes on an island.

Spratly Islands: World’s Most Disputed Islands



(images via US Marines, Borneo Eye, and Sabah Travel Guide)

The Spratly Islands, a chain of atolls in the South China Seas are of great strategical importance.  Troops from Malaysia, the Philipines, Vietnam, Taiwan, and China are stationed on various islands in the chain.  Some islands are claimed by more than one nation.  Nonetheless, some of these thin strips of land are quite beautiful.  Layang Layang, near the Malaysian state of Sabah, is a popular diving spot.

Smallest, Holiest, Wildest Island



(images via painted stork)

Peacock Island is the home of the holy Umananda temple complex.  The island sits is a tiny strip of land in the middle of the wide Brahmaputra River in India’s Assam province.  Aside from the temple, there are plenty of residents, mostly of the avian and mammalian variety.  Because so many people visit Umananda, the animals, like the Gold Langur (pictured) are quite tame and social.

Java: Island of People



(images via flydime)

Java is the world’s most populous island.  With over 125,000 people, the main island of the nation of Indonesia is characterized by mega-cities (Jakarta and Surabaya) and, conversely, lush natural landscape.

Azores: Rugged and Remote



(images via Portugal Travelers, Eschock, Ulrik Sverdrup)

The Azores belong to Portugal, but these islands, which you’ve wondered about if you’ve ever looked at the Atlantic Ocean page in an atlas, are so remote, they might as well be their own country.  Sitting in the middle of the Atlantic, these islands are lush, clean, and beautiful.  Though Portuguese influence remains strong, there are  decidedly unique characteristics in the culture of this isolated place.

Ellesmere: The Freezing Isle



(images via Queens University)

There are places in the world that beat Ellesmere Island when it comes to freezing temps, but this Canadian island, directly to the west of Greenland, is a barren arctic wonderland that is a favorite of geologists and biologists who are studying the natural world in the far north.

Ometepe: Old Island of Fire



(images Mat Honan, moody751, and nasa)

Ometepe is one of the oldest known inhabited islands in the world.  It is a two headed monster (two circles connected by an isthmus) in the middle of Nicaragua’s gigantic Lake Nicaragua.  The island is made up of two volcanoes.  It has a population of nearly 35,000 – mostly farmers taking advantage of the fertile volcanic soil.