What is the Difference Between Island and Islet

The main difference between island and islet is their size. Islets are very small islands.

Both islands and islets are areas of land that are surrounded on all sides by water. Both can occur on seas, rivers, and lakes around the world. Although islets are a type of island, there is a difference between the two.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is an Island 
     – Definition, Features
2. What is an Islet
     – Definition, Features
3. Difference Between Island and Islet
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Island, Islet

Difference Between Island and Islet - Comparison Summary

What is an Island

An island is a body of land that is surrounded by water. There are numerous islands in the ocean, rivers, and lakes around the globe. They may vary in size, climate, and type of inhabitants. Continents are similar to islands since both are land areas surrounded by water. Since they are so large, we don’t consider them islands. But there are exceptions to this. For example, Greenland is three times the size of the Australian continent and has an area of about 2,166,000 square kilometers. The climate of an island depends on its location; for instance, the Aleutian Islands in Alaska have a cold climate and are covered in ice all year round, while Tahiti in tropical waters has a warm climate. Some islands are just barren land with few plants and animals, while some are countries or cities with high populations – for example, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Tokyo.

Island vs Islet

Types of Islands

There are six main types of islands: continental islands, tidal islands, barrier islands, oceanic islands, coral islands, and artificial islands. Continental islands are islands that were once connected to a continent. This means the formation of these islands happened when Earth’s shifting continents broke apart. Madagascar and Greenland are two examples of such islands. Tidal islands are a form of continental island; in these islands, the land that connects the island to the mainland has not eroded entirely, but it remains underwater during the high time. For instance, Mont Saint-Michel in France.

Moreover, barrier islands are narrow islands that lie parallel to coastlines and function as barriers between the ocean and the mainland. The formation of oceanic islands, on the other hand, occurred due to volcanic eruptions on the ocean floor. The eruption of volcanos builds up layers of lava that eventually come to the surface of the water. An island forms when the top of the volcano appears above the water. Coral islands are islands that form in warm waters corals. Artificial islands are islands people make in different ways for different purposes.

What is an Islet

An islet is a very small island. Islets generally cover less than one acre. They are often unnamed islands. Some people also say that islets have little or no vegetation. Therefore, they cannot support human habitations.

Compare Island and Islet - What's the difference?

Most islets are made of rock, sand, or coral. They may be tidal or permanent. Moreover, islets can exist in seas, rivers, lakes, or any other substantial body of water.

Difference Between Island and Islet


An island is an area of land that is surrounded on all sides by water, while an islet is a very small, often unnamed island.


Islets are very small islands. Islets generally cover less than one acre, while islands vary in size. The largest island on Earth, Greenland, is even bigger than Australia, which is a continent.


Most islands have different types of vegetation, while islets have little or no vegetation.


Most islands have a human population; for example, Maldives, Seychelles, Bali, Maui in Hawaii, Tokyo, Sri Lanka, etc. However, islets do not typically support human habitation.


Islands are generally named, while islets are unnamed.


Islands have different shapes and sizes. They can be big or small. Islets are very small islands. The main difference between island and islet is their size.


1. “Island.” Education – National Geography.
2. “Islet.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Campbell Island New Zealand geographic map en” By Ikonact – Own work Bathymetry: ETOPO1 Public domainRelief: NZ Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku Contours: Land Information New Zealand ©  InternationalRivers: © OpenStreetMap contributors Tool (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Islets under a Clear Blue Sky” by Rob Thomason (CC0) via Pexels 

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.

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