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Have you ever wondered what the largest island on earth is? Australia might be your first guess, but it’s technically a continent. Despite being completely surrounded by water, continental landmasses are much bigger than islands. Australia is three times larger than the largest island on earth, Greenland. So what is an island, anyway? The truth is, islands are both hard to define, and they’re even harder to count. New ones keep forming, and old ones keep vanishing, drowned out by sea level rises and other factors. The largest islands in the world, however, have held their own for millennia.

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1. Greenland

Location: North America

Area: 822,700 sq miles

Population: 56,483

Population Density: 0.1/sq miles

Sandwiched between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, this independent North American territory of Denmark is the largest island on earth by a large margin. Despite its verdant name, Greenland has a well-earned reputation for being inhospitable and is the least densely populated country on Earth. Glaciers and ice caps cover more than 80% of the island, and there are no roads between towns.

Vadim_Nefedov / Getty Images
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