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Geography
Islands
The British Isles

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Largest
Channel Islands
Details

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Islands: The British Isles

Great Britain became an island (approximately) Click to show or hide the answer

The BBC News website (in a report dated 15 February 2011) is actually quite specific on this: it says there was a huge tsunami caused by a landslip in the sea bed off Norway, and this flooded the marshy land that had previously joined Britain to the continent.

Largest

The twelve largest islands in the British Isles are:

  Area (sq. km)Population Density
Click to show or hide the answer   216,777 57,000,000 263
Click to show or hide the answer   84,406 6,000,000 71
Click to show or hide the answer Scotland 2,179 19,918 9
Click to show or hide the answer Scotland 1,656 9,232 5.57
Click to show or hide the answer Scotland 969 17,550 18
Click to show or hide the answer Scotland 875 2,667 3.05
Click to show or hide the answer Wales 714 69,000 97
Click to show or hide the answer Scotland 620 3,457 5.56
Click to show or hide the answer Crown Dependency 572 80,056 140
Click to show or hide the answer Scotland 523 15,315 29
Click to show or hide the answer Scotland 4325,04511.7
Click to show or hide the answer England 381132,731348

Note that the figures for population and density are for comparison only, and may not be up to date.

Great Britain is the world's 9th largest island, and Ireland is its 20th largest. Lewis and Harris is about 193rd largest.

Lewis is just over four times the size of Harris (683 square miles as opposed to 158) and has about seven times as many inhabitants. Lewis and Harris are joined by an isthmus.

It's interesting to note that the most densely populated island in the British Isles is the Isle of Wight, with 32% more people per square kilometre than Great Britain. It's also worth noting however that the population density of England is approximately 406 people per square kilometre – exactly one–sixth (16.67%) more than the Isle of Wight.

See individual listings below for more details.

The Channel Islands

The seven inhabited islands in the Channel Islands are, in descending order of area:

Area (sq. miles)Population Density
Click to show or hide the answer 45.56 99,5002,184
Click to show or hide the answer 30.1 65,8492,188
Click to show or hide the answer 3 1,903634
Click to show or hide the answer 2 600300
Click to show or hide the answer 0.77 6078
Click to show or hide the answer 0.115 217
Click to show or hide the answer 0.07 343

Alderney is the northernmost of the Channel Islands, and Jersey is the southernmost. Alderney is about 40 miles due north of Jersey. Guernsey is about 20 miles south–west of Alderney, and about 27 miles north–west of Jersey. Sark and Herm are off Guernsey, to the east; Breqhou is off the west coast of Sark, and Jethou is off the south–west point of Herm. Guernsey and its four outliers (along with their smaller, uninhabited outliers) form a distinct group, about 15 miles across from west to east.

Alderney is the closest of the Channel Islands to both France and Great Britain. It's about 10 miles west of La Hague, which is the north–west extremity of the Cotentin Peninsula – the major peninsula that protrudes from Brittany into the English Channel – and about 60 miles from the south coast of England.

The fact that Alderney is the most northerly of the Channel Islands, and also the nearest to France, is liable to cause some confusion. It's because the Channel Islands lie to the west of the Cotentin Peninsula, which points only slightly west of north. Jersey is in fact only marginally further from the French coast than Alderney; Guernsey, lying to the west of a line drawn north from Jersey to Alderney, is furthest away.

Politically, the Channel Islands form two United Kingdom Crown Dependencies, known as the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey – a bailiwick being (historically) the area of jurisdiction of a bailiff. The Bailiwick of Jersey covers Jersey only; the Bailiwick of Guernsey covers the other six islands. There are three crown dependencies altogether – the other being the Isle of Man.

As above, note that the figures for population and density are for comparison only and may not be up to date.

See individual listings below for more details.

Details

Uninhabited rock in the Firth of Clyde, nicknamed "Paddy's milestone" – a familiar landmark from the Open golf course at Turnberry (which is named after it). 1 kilometre across and rising to 338 m (1,100 feet), it's the plug of an extinct volcano Click to show or hide the answer
Over 60% of all curling stones are made from the granite of
Third largest and most northerly of the Channel Islands, and nearest to France Click to show or hide the answer
Named Adolph Island by the Germans during occupation in World War II
The Skerries are off the north–west tip of Click to show or hide the answer
Puffin Island is off
Parys Mountain, Beaumaris Castle
North and South Stack lighthouses
Inishmore, Innishmaan, Inisheer: islands in Galway Bay, famed for traditional knitting from undyed wool Click to show or hide the answer
Scotland's seventh largest island, and the largest in the Firth of Clyde; highest point is Goat Fell (2,866 ft, 873.5 m) Click to show or hide the answer
Off the south–western tip of the Lleyn peninsula (North Wales): a destination for pilgrims since a monastery was founded there in 516 AD; said by some to be the burial site of King Arthur Click to show or hide the answer
Rocky island (volcanic plug) in the Firth of Forth, approx. 1 mile off North Berwick Click to show or hide the answer
Island in the Outer Hebrides, between North and South Uist – connected to both via road causeways Click to show or hide the answer
Island at the westernmost tip of the Scilly Islands, famous for its lighthouse, listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's smallest island; the line of longitude passing through it is the eastern end of the Blue Riband route Click to show or hide the answer
Sixth largest of the Channel Islands: leased since 1993 by Sir David Barclay – he and his twin brother Frederick have business interestes including shipping, retail and newspapers Click to show or hide the answer
In Poole Harbour: site of the first Boy Scout camp, 1907 Click to show or hide the answer
Paired with the former county of Argyll in the name of a Scottish unitary authority, formed 1996 and covering the second largest administrative area of any Scottish council Click to show or hide the answer
Island off Giltar Point, south of Tenby, Pembrokeshire: site of a Cistercian monastery, whose monks sell produce including cheese, shortbread, perfumes and toiletries Click to show or hide the answer
Nature reserve off the south–western tip of the Isle of Man Click to show or hide the answer
Small island off the coast of Co. Antrim, joined to the mainland by a rope bridge Click to show or hide the answer
Small island in the Thames near Fuller's Brewery, a feature of the Boat Race course Click to show or hide the answer
Island in the Thames at Twickenham, accessible only by a footbridge (or by boat), known in the 1960s as a music venue Click to show or hide the answer
Between Orkney and Shetland, famous for its knitting (said to date back to survivors of the Spanish Armada); gives its name to the sea area that includes Orkney and Shetland Click to show or hide the answer
5 miles NE of Bamburgh, Northumberland; 7 miles ESE of Lindisfarne Click to show or hide the answer
Uninhabited rock off the southern tip of Ireland (County Cork): has Ireland's most southerly point; gives its name to a famous yacht race Click to show or hide the answer
Twin islands in the Bristol Channel, between Weston Super Mare (Somerset) and Lavernock Point (between Penarth and Barry, Glamorgan); their names reflect their different shapes Click to show or hide the answer
Click to show or hide the answer
Uninhabited island off the Pembrokeshire coast, west of Skomer: known for its breeding population of gannets, and owned by the RSPB since 1947 Click to show or hide the answer
Small Scottish island made uninhabitable for all mammals following experiments in germ warfare (anthrax) during WWII – finally declared safe in 1990 Click to show or hide the answer
Randall's brewery Click to show or hide the answer
Fifth largest Channel Island (after Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark), and the smallest that's open to the public; cars are prohibited (as on Sark), and so are bicycles! Click to show or hide the answer
Name shared by an island in the North Sea, off Northumberland, and an island off the North West coast of Anglesey (the former is also known as Lindisfarne) Click to show or hide the answer
Notorious reef 23 miles east of Dundee (off the Tay estuary) Click to show or hide the answer
Island in Lough Gill, immortalised by W. B. Yeats Click to show or hide the answer
Inner Hebridean site of St. Columba's monastery (founded 563). Reilig Odhráin, an ancient burying ground, said in 1549 to contain the graves of 48 kings of Scotland, 8 of Norway, and 4 of Ireland Click to show or hide the answer
Home of one of the four classes of malt whiskies, including Bowmore (named after the island's largest town), Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin; an eighth opened in 2005 Click to show or hide the answer
Came under Norwegian rule, after Viking raids from about 800 AD; sold to Scotland by Norway in 1266; came under English control in 1341; granted to Sir John Stanley in 1406; his family ruled it until 1736, refusing to be called kings but preferring the title Lords of Mann; passed to the dukes of Atholl in 1736, and sold to the British crown in 1765 for £70,000 Click to show or hide the answer
Governed by an elected president, a Legislative Council, or upper house, and a popularly elected House of Keys, or lower house (one of the world's most ancient legislative assemblies); the two houses come together to form the Tynwald Court, to transact legislative business; levies its own taxes
Traditionally divided into six sheadings: Ayre, Garff, Middle, Rushen, Glenfaba, Michael (clockwise from the North)
Onchan Head, Port Soderick, Union Mills (a village in the Middle sheading)
Ellan Vannin in local language, Mona to the Romans
Snaefell is its highest peak
Laxey Wheel, Castle Rushen (both feature on banknotes)
Vectis is the Roman name for Click to show or hide the answer
Godshill model village, Carisbrooke Castle
Largest and southernmost of the Channel Islands Click to show or hide the answer
Groneth Castle, German Underground Hospital
Annual Battle of the Flowers
Zoo founded by Gerald Durrell, 1959 – renamed in his honour 1999
Seventh largest of the Channel Islands, and the smallest inhabited one: currently leased by Sir Peter Ogden, one of the founders of the IT services company Computacentre Click to show or hide the answer
Scotland's eighth largest island: shares its name with a French wine–growing region and with a mountain range that forms much of the Franco–Swiss border, separating the rivers Rhone and Rhine Click to show or hide the answer
Largest and most northerly of the Outer Hebrides Click to show or hide the answer
Holy Island, off Northumberland (accessible by car at low tide via a causeway): proper name Click to show or hide the answer
St. Tudwal's Islands (East and West) are off the subsidiary south–eastern extremity of the Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Largest island in the Bristol Channel Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Name shared by the largest islands in Orkney and Shetland respectively Click to show or hide the answer
Island off Unst, Shetland, that has Britain's most northerly lighthouse; often said to be Britain's most northerly island, but see Out Stack. When the lighthouse was manned, this was Britain's most northerly inhabited island. Previous to 1964, it was known as North Unst – the current name means "big steep–sided island" Click to show or hide the answer
Duart Castle (traditional seat of Clan McLean) Click to show or hide the answer
The only Scottish island, apart from Skye, that has a Munro (Ben More)
Pomona (or Mainland), Hoy (and its Old Man), North and South Ronaldsay, Sanday, Westray, Stronsay Click to show or hide the answer
Scapa Flow is a natural harbour in
Britain's most northerly island: a small rock half a mile north–east of Muckle Flugga Click to show or hide the answer
Sea area that includes the Channel Islands Click to show or hide the answer
Northern Ireland's only inhabited offshore island, giving it its most northerly point Click to show or hide the answer
British island, 80 feet across, 230 miles West of the Outer Hebrides Click to show or hide the answer
Off Guernsey, fourth largest of the Channel islands; divided by an isthmus into Great and Little Click to show or hide the answer
Seigneurie established by Elizabeth I; ruler known as Seigneur/Dame
Parliament is the Chief Pleas; no income tax, cars are prohibited
28 miles (45 km) off Land's End: St. Mary's, St. Martin's, Tresco, Bryher and St. Agnes are the inhabited isles of; Hugh Town (St. Mary's) is the capital Click to show or hide the answer
Island in the Thames estuary, off the north coast of Kent, separated from the mainland by The Swale but connected by the Kingsferry Bridge (near Sittingbourne) Click to show or hide the answer
Sheerness, Warden Point, Shell Ness
Mainland, Yell, Unst (largest); Fetlar, Papa Stour, Foula, Muckle Flugga, Burra (West and East, but only one island): islands of Click to show or hide the answer
Two islands off the more southerly of Pembrokeshire's two western extremities: both are SSSIs, the former (the second alphabetically) is a national nature reserve; around half of the world's population of Manx shearwaters nest on them (the majority on the former); the name of the latter is Norse for 'wooded island' Click to show or hide the answer
Click to show or hide the answer
Largest and most northerly of the Inner Hebrides Click to show or hide the answer
Separated from mainland Scotland by the Sound of Sleat
Dunvegan Castle, Talisker Distillery, Cuillin Hills
Largest and most populous of the Scilly Isles Click to show or hide the answer
Second largest of the Scilly Isles: its main settlements are New Grimsby and Old Grimsby, and the church is in the hamlet of Dolphin Town Click to show or hide the answer
Fingal's Cave is the most famous feature of (Hebridean island) Click to show or hide the answer
Group of islands in the Outer Hebrides including Benbecula and Eriskay Click to show or hide the answer
Britain's most northerly inhabited island (see Muckle Flugga); the third largest of the Shetland Isles (after Mainland and Yell) Click to show or hide the answer
Island off the Iveragh Peninsula, County Kerry – connected to the Irish mainland by a bridge at Portmagee; the eastern terminus of the first commercially viable transatlantic telegraph cable (1866) Click to show or hide the answer
Second largest of the Shetland Islands (after Mainland) Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017