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Who has not dreamt at least once of being on an uninhabited island, alone or with his or her partner or with friends. This might be a bit of a cliché but this is what first comes to mind about islands. Still, the definition of course is much wider and usually includes every piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. So, although only 30% of our planet is in fact land, pieces of land like Africa but also Australia are not considered islands itself and therefore Greenland is the biggest island in the world.  Certain countries are thus considered islands in itself and there are hundreds of thousands of islands scattered around the world. Indonesia is probably the country which has the most islands, over 17,500 according to official counts.
It's beyond to scope of the list here to mention that many islands of course, but there are some which can not be overlooked of course, including some exotic tropical islands, but also (sub)polar ones or island nations.
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Some 400 kilometres off the coast of mainland Africa, Madagascar measures up to be the world's fourth largest island. Due to its size and remoteness, Madagascar's wildlife is unique, varied and very, very abundant. The island is an ideal habitat for lemurs, chameleons, geckos, aloes and delightful flowering plants. No wonder it has been named one of the world's most ecologically rich nations. Despite some bad habits in the way of forest destruction in the past, Madagascar is seeking to maintain its wonderful natural treasures. Eco-tourists, cross your fingers. Excellent beaches and a unique culture (everything about this place seems to be unique) round out its attraction.
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Praslin is the second largest island of the Seychelles, after the island of Mahé. Together with La Digue it is one of the most popular and beautiful islands of the archipelago. It's famous for the Valléé de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of only two places in the world where you can see the coco de mer palm growing in their natural state. The other location is Curieuse Island. This valley's forest is just marvelous and the view of sunlight filtering through is just great! The famous coco de mer, from a palm-tree once believed to grow in the depths of the sea, is the largest seed in the plant kingdom. With some luck you might see the Seychelles black parrot here. As this is a fragile forest area, keep to the tracks and don't take anything away or leave behind.
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Robben Island is an island in Table Bay just off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. It's flat and only a few metres above sea level and is mainly of importance because of the prison built here that held, amongst others, the former South African president Nelson Mandela during the days of Apartheid. It had been used since the 17th century as a way of isolating and imprisoning people, and between 1836 and 1931 was home to a leper colony. Under the apartheid government, Robben Island became a high security prison in 1959 and up until its closure in 1996, it held over 3,000 prisoners. Nelson Mandela was incarcerated from 1964 to 1984. In 1999, it was inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List.
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Saint Helena was the island to which Napoleon Bonaparte was banished for the final years of his life. And certainly, passionate fans of bad boy Bonaparte will rest assured knowing that Saint Helena is hardly a pit of desolation. With a gorgeous volcanic backdrop and a nice tropical climate, the emperor could have had little to complain about (besides that whole failure-to-take-over-Europe thing). Today, travellers are even attracted by the island's remoteness: situated more than 2,000 kilometres from the nearest continent, Saint Helena offers just the kind of getaway busy folk need.
The island of Tristan de Cunha, a dependency of Saint Helena, lies in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean, removed over 2,000 kilometres from the nearest major landmass (South Africa) and is the most isolated inhabited piece of land in the world.
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Bali is the western most island in the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia. The island is located west of Java and east of Lombok, and basically consists of a string of volcanoes. It is one of the main tourist destinations in the whole of Asia. Aside from the beaches Bali offers amazing mountains, art work, dance, music and pumping nightlife. On top of this there is extremely clean and clear water that are filled with coral reefs, which makes for world class diving. Main sights include the Bali Baret National Park and Tanah Lot, one of the temples that make up the seven seaside temples.
Boracay is undoubtedly the most famous tropical island destination in the Philippines. Famed for its sugary-soft, the four kilometres-long beach, facing eastwards is simply called: White Beach. On the other side of the island (at this point the island in 700 metres wide) lies Bulabog Beach, which faces westwards.
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Ko Samui is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. It is the third largest island in Thailand. This island started as the originally hippy backpacker destinations in the 1970s and because of the influx of massive tourism the island has changed. Although many backpacker places can still be found, most of that scene has relocated to the nearby island of Ko Pha Ngan.
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Grenada, along the southeastern reaches of the Lesser Antilles, is a home to numerous resorts, like most of its Caribbean island neighbours. But in Grenada, these resorts are not nearly as widespread as elsewhere. Travellers can easily stay at smaller, locally owned hotels where they will not feel like part of the crowd. That, coupled with a slow, dreamy pace of life, makes Grenada the ultimate relaxation island. Which is not to say that there is little to do here. You can head to the beach and dive, swim or snorkel in the water; stay dry and go on a sailing trip to one of the smaller nearby islands; or hike inland through dense rain forests. Excellent, cheap Creole food, accented by spice, winds every day up with a happy stomach. And if you are tired of the hustle and bustle of the main island, hop over to the smaller islands of Carriacou or Petite Martinique and see what relaxing is all about!
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The birthplace of reggae and Bob Marley, Jamaica is as vibrant as it was in the days of the great Marley. A thriving music scene centred in Kingston is an exterior revelation of the artistic heartbeat underpinning all of Jamaican society. Even for those less musically inclined, Jamaica is a top contender for the all-time favourite Caribbean destination. Numerous coastal cities make up the bulk of the tourist attraction: travellers' endless fascination with the sparkling Caribbean waters does not seem to have diminished. But for those in search of a little more than the standard Caribbean fare, a trip inland should satisfy the senses: the island boasts the beautiful Blue Mountains (like the coffee), where hiking trails take the traveller along hundreds of rivers and gorgeous waterfalls.
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Trinidad is the largest and most populous of the 23 islands which make up the country of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just 11 kilometres off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. Although the island is not as popular as nearby Tobago when it comes down to beaches, relaxing and aquatic activities, it's one of the best places in the world to celebrate Carnival. A two week long party increasing in fevour until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, Carnival is centered around the capital city of Port of Spain, with parades, custom contests, music (mainly Soca, Raggae and Calypso) and party after party.
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Bocas del Toro is not just one island, but rather an archipelago and the main place to go in Panama for relaxing on the beach, snorkelling, diving and many other marine activities. It's a popular place amongst travellers and easy to get to from mainland Panama or even from neighbouring Costa Rica, which is not far away either. It's one of the best beach destinations between Belize/Honduras and South America and unlike the San Blas Islands more to the east easier accessible.
Caye Caulker is a small laid back Caribbean island 35 kilometres northeast of Belize City. It's a popular place to unwind for a couple of days (or weeks for that matter) and enjoy the beaches, snorkelling, diving and friendly atmosphere.
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Roatan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Honduras. The biggest draw are the amazing reefs in crystal clear water making for great diving. In recent years some mega resorts have started to open up bringing in a higher class of tourist. Another fascinating thing to explore is the local Caracole population.
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Cyprus, a rather extraordinary island of diversity, has as its claim to fame the only divided capital in the world (ever since the Berlin Wall fell). The contentious territorial disagreements between North (Turkish) and South (Greek) Cyprus were brought to UN-led discussions in 2002.
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The island of many contrasts and colours fiercely fought over down the centuries, living to tell the tale today through all its glorious battle scars, cast into the sea like a jewel. Sicily sparkles in the hot mezzagiorno sun off the southern boot of Italy, reminding us all the time, to travel a little bit further down the coast until we reach the straits of Messina.
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The Socotra Archipelago is a group of four islands in the Indian Ocean, several hundred kilometres south of the Arabian peninsula. Socotra is the largest of the four islands, with Abd al Kuri, Samhah and Darsa making up the three smaller islands. The archipelago is a territory of Yemen and is well-known for its remarkable biodiversity. Over 90 percent of the archipelago's reptile species and snail species are found nowhere else, and about 37 percent of its plant species are unique to the islands. Much of the islands' land area is occupied by national parks and nature sanctuaries, while it also harbours an abundant and diverse marine life, with hundreds of species of reef-building corals, fish and crab, lobster and shrimp. The Socotra Archipelago was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2008.
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A trip to Alcatraz Island should be at the very top of every visitor's agenda to San Francisco. Fascinating history and amazing views make this a most memorable day. A highly recommended automated walking tour brings the experience to life. For a more eerie take on Alcatraz Island, pay a little more and do a tour after sunset at night. Check the official Alcatraz website for more information or if you want to, Alcatraz Cruises offers boat trips and is the official ticket company for the museum entrance fees and boat transfers. There is also some flora and fauna to be found on the island, but the prison museum is the highlight you are visiting for. To avoid disappointment, buy your tickets online in advance, especially during high season and weekends.
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Bermuda sits some 1,030 kilometres (640 miles) off the American coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It isn't as hot as the Caribbean islands and its waters are certainly not great for swimming year-round, but Bermuda is warm enough to host the Atlantic's northernmost corals. The beauty these corals afford, as well as the lure of numerous shipwrecks, makes diving in Bermuda's coastal waters an appealing prospect - that is, in summer when the Atlantic is warm enough to brave without a wetsuit.
Cozumel means "Island of the swallows" in Mayan. Cozumel is an island in the Caribbean Sea opposite Playa del Carmen. It is one of the 9 municipalities of the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula.
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Greenland officially is the largest island in the world, not counting Australia. Over half of Greenland is above the Arctic Circle and an even higher proportion is covered year-round with ice. It's a cold place.
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Although many people immediately think about just one island, Hawaii is in fact the 50th state of the USA and consists of many islands. The main island regarding popularity among tourists though is Oahu, with Honolulu and Waikiki Beach as its centerpieces.
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The very first thing to learn about Christmas Island is that it is not the same Christmas Island which exists in Kiribati and which search engines will probably conjure up information about when you run a search for the island. Christmas Island is located due west of Australia's northenmost protrusions, directly south of Jakarta. It is in fact a territory of Australia, a fact which has made it a popular destination among asylum seekers willing to dare the voyage over from Indonesia. Other aspects of its situation have made it popular among more ordinary travelling types. It is dominated by national park where (predictably) flora, fauna and ecotourists flourish. The island is the sole habitat of the creatively named Red Crab, so make sure you don't step on them - it'll hurt your feet! Divers are drawn to the island's steep drop-off and abundant marine life, while the gambling spirit will find the new casino a suitable place to dispose of ready cash.
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Fiji is a fascinating destination and apart from the main island includes dozens of other islands. Fijians are Melanesians, but their islands were invaded by Polynesians from Samoa and Tonga. Upon European discovery, matters were complicated further, as the British turned it into a colony and brought in thousands of Indians to work on plantations. Fijian cuisine represents the diversity of modern Fiji's demographic makeup, with flavours from India and Europe mixed with the local dishes. This unique cultural fusion gives Fiji an edge over other South Pacific destinations, while it still has all the usual attractions of a tropical island. Fiji's reefs and warm waters provide a great opportunity for keen divers. The Great Astrolabe Reef and Rainbow Reef are two of the most famous reefs in the archipelago. Some of the nicest islands include the Yasawa Group of islands just off the coast of Viti Levu. Pick one of the numerous resorts, big, small, eco-friendly or ultra-luxurious and unwind on a white sandy beach. Stay the night at an island resort or, if you would rather stay on the mainland, it is also possible to take day cruises.
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Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island, located in the central eastern coastal zone of Queensland, Australia, about 200 kilometres north of Brisbane. The island is about 120 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide, together forming a 1,840 km² big sandy island which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1992. Named after Captain James Fraser who ran his ship 'The Sterling Castle' aground here in 1836, the island is picturesque and has a unique ecosystem. Apart from loads of sand, there are also woodlands, forests and mangroves, and the fauna is impressive too with many birds, reptiles and amphibians. The only way to get to Fraser Island is by boat from places near Hervey Bay, as there are no airstrips on the island. Many visitors to the island hire 4WD vehicles from Hervey Bay and explore under their own steam, camping as they go. It is also possible to visit the island as part of an organised tour as well.
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Kangaroo Island lies off the coast of South Australia. Its pristine wilderness and abundant wildlife are its main draw cards, attracting over 140,000 visitors a year. A small population of 4,400 call the island home. Kangaroo Island is Australia's third largest island (after Tasmania and Melville Island). It has a total area of 4,405km² and is 155 kilometres long and 57 kilometres wide, although the narrowest point is just 900 metres. It is located 13 kilometres from Cape Jervis, off South Australia's coast on the Fleurieu Peninsula. One of the highlights is Flinders Chase National Park which covers 33,000 hectares of the island and is home to an abundance of wildlife, including the endangered Cape Barren geese. Land formations like Remarkable Rocks and the Admirals Arch are popular sights as well and there are many animals to spot on the island, including penguins, koalas and sea lions. The best time for a visit is during the warmer summer months from November till March, when it's generally well above 20 °C. You can choose to fly to Kingscoote Airport or make the 13-kilometre-long journey across by ferry from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw.
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Halfway between New Zealand and the Americas are the Pitcairn Islands. Of the four islands, Pitcairn Island is the only inhabited one - it is one of the most remote inhabited islands on earth. The island is inhabited by several dozen descendants of the "Bounty" mutineers, who settled on the island in the late 1700s. This small island has few exports apart from its postage stamps and miro-wood carvings. Visiting the island is not for the time pressed traveller and is best achieved by passing cruise ships or yacht. Extended visits will require written permission from the government and arrangements to stay with someone. Among the rather limited attractions on the islands are a rare bird life (such as on Henderson Island) and historic artifacts from the mutiny.
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An increasingly popular destination for travellers to Australia, Tasmania's rugged natural beauty is its primary draw card. Apart from a few cities and towns, much of Tasmania is pure wilderness and great for hiking and other outdoor activities. There are 19 national parks in Tasmania, a testament to the state's extraordinary beauty and diversity. Freycinet National Park and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park are two of the most popular. Many of the National Parks and reserves have been combined associated together to create the Tasmanian Wilderness, which covers 20% of the island.
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Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of over 20 islands, which is located over 350 kilometres from mainland Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are on the UNESCO World Heritage List for their extraordinary features, including flora and fauna and unspoilt natural environments.
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The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of 22 volcanic islands around the equator, located about 1,000 kilometres west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean and were made famous by Charles Darwin. The Galapagos Islands include 7,880 square kilometres of land and 45,000 square kilometres of water. The largest of the islands is Isabela Island with about 4,588 square kilometres. It is a heaven for people who wish to be witness of some of the most unusual animals in the world, all to be viewed from up close. Due to the lack of predators on the islands, most animals are not scared of humans, making them an easy target for sailors in the past.
Spanish for the land of fire, Tierra del Fuego provides visitors a chance to really see the end of the world. Despite its fiery name, the climate is cold, windy and rainy, but visitors will still find interesting sites. The Argentinian city of Ushuaia is both the southern most city in the world, and a popular starting point for boats to Antarctica.
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