The origin of…Island

“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.” Baltasar Gracian


An island is a piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. The difference between a continent and an island is that continents sit on continental lithosphere that is part of tectonic plates floating high on the Earth’s mantle. Islands on the other hand are extensions of the oceanic crust (like volcanic islands) or they are geologically part of a continent sitting on continental lithosphere (like Greenland). There are different names for different kinds of islands. For example, an island in a river or lake can be called an eyot, ait or holm. Very small islands can be called skerries, islets, cays or keys (like the Florida Keys). A group of geologically related islands is called an archipelago (like Indonesia). Two types of islands exist: continental and oceanic. Continental islands are islands that are situated on the continental shelf of a continent, like Java, Sicily and Long Island. A microcontinental island is a subcategory and is a continental island on a rifted continent, like Madagascar and New Zealand. Other subcategories are barrier islands, formed by accumulations of sand deposited by sea currents on the continental shelf, and fluvial or alluvial islands, formed in river deltas or midstream in large rivers. Some of these can be temporary while others last. Oceanic islands are not situated on a continental shelf and the vast majority of them are volcanic. The other ones are tectonic, meaning that they have been formed by plate movements lifting up the deep ocean floor to above the surface, like Macquarie Island. A subcategory of volcanic islands are volcanic island arcs, formed by the subduction of one plate under another, like Tonga. Other subcategories are islands formed by oceanic rift reaching the surface, like Iceland, and oceanic islands formed over volcanic hotspots, like the Hawaiian Islands. A different type of oceanic island is an atoll, which is an island formed from a coral reef that has grown on and is usually in the shape of a ring with a central lagoon (the Maldives). Island: 1. a tract of land surrounded by water and smaller than a continent 2. something resembling an island especially in its isolated or surrounded position: as a. a usually raised area within a thoroughfare, parking lot, or driveway used especially to separate or direct traffic b. a superstructure on the deck of a ship (as an aircraft carrier) c. a kitchen counter that is approachable from all sides 3. an isolated group or area; especially : an isolated ethnological group (source: Merriam Webster). The English word island comes from Old English igland, island, from ieg, island, from Proto-Germanic *aujo, thing on the water, from Proto Indo European *akwa-, water. Dutch eiland has the sam roots. Spanish isla and Italian isola come from Latin insula, island, from in, in, + the Greek word salum, sea (from terra in salo, land in the sea). Island in other languages: Dutch: het eiland Spanish: la isla Italian: la isola


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s