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An archipelagic state is a designation used for certain island countries that consist of an archipelago. The designation is legally defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In various conferences,[1] Fiji, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Bahamas, and the Philippines are the five original sovereign states that obtained approval in the run by conventions and 8PM on the Law of the Sea signed in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on December 10, 1982, and qualified as archipelagic states.[2]

Archipelagic states are states that are composed of groups of islands forming a state as a single unit, with the islands and the waters within the baselines as internal waters. Under this concept ("archipelagic doctrine"), an archipelago shall be regarded as a single unit, so that the waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, irrespective of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the state, and are subject to its exclusive sovereignty.

The approval of the United Nations for the five sovereign states as archipelagic states respect[3] existing agreements with other countries and shall recognize traditional fishing rights and other legitimate activities of the immediately adjacent neighboring countries in certain areas falling within archipelagic waters. The terms and conditions for the exercise of such rights and activities, including the nature, the extent and the areas to which they apply, shall, at the request of any of the countries concerned, be regulated by bilateral agreements between them. Such rights shall not be transferred to or shared with third countries or their nationals.[4]

List of archipelagosEdit

This is a list of archipelago countries in the world. These are island countries with more than one big island and not one island shared by multiple countries. For more info see the List of island countries.

Name Geographic configuration Geologic location Population Area (km²)[5] Population

(per km²)
Geographic location
  Antigua and Barbuda Two main islands Continental shelf 86,295 440 194 Caribbean Sea, Leeward Islands
  Bahamas Archipelago Continental shelf 392,000 13,878 23.27 Atlantic Ocean, Bahamas
  Cape Verde Archipelago Oceanic 518,467 4,033 125.5 Atlantic Ocean, Africa
  Comoros Archipelago Oceanic 784,745 2,235 275 Indian Ocean, Africa
  Cook Islands[n 1] Archipelago Oceanic 10,777 236 45.7 Pacific Ocean, Polynesia
  Federated States of Micronesia[n 2] Archipelago Oceanic 101,351 702 158.1 Pacific Ocean, Micronesia
  Fiji Archipelago Oceanic 859,178 18,274 46.4 Pacific Ocean, Melanesia
  Indonesia Archipelago Two continental shelves 255,461,700 1,904,569 124.7 Maritime Southeast Asia
  Japan Archipelago Continental shelf 124,800,000 377,873 337 Pacific Ocean, East Asia
  Kiribati Archipelago Oceanic 98,000 811 135 Pacific Ocean, Micronesia
  Maldives Archipelago Oceanic 329,198 298 1,105 Indian Ocean
  Malta Two main islands Continental shelf 404,500 316 1,282 Mediterranean Sea
  Marshall Islands[n 2] Archipelago Oceanic 62,000 181 342.5 Pacific Ocean, Micronesia
  Mauritius Archipelago Oceanic 1,244,663 2,040 610 Indian Ocean, Africa
  New Zealand Two main islands Continental shelf 4,691,194 268,680 17.4 Pacific Ocean, Polynesia
  Niue[n 1] One Island Oceanic 1,269 260 4.9 Pacific Ocean, Polynesia
  Palau[n 2] Archipelago Oceanic 20,000 459 43.6 Pacific Ocean, Micronesia
  Papua New Guinea Part of a larger island Continental shelf 6,732,000 462,840 14.5 Pacific Ocean, Melanesia
  Philippines Archipelago Continental shelf 101,398,120 300,000 295 Maritime Southeast Asia
  Saint Kitts and Nevis Two main islands Continental shelf 51,300 261 164 Caribbean Sea, Leeward Islands
  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Archipelago Continental shelf 120,000 389 307 Caribbean Sea, Windward Islands
  Samoa Archipelago Oceanic 179,000 2,831 63.2 Pacific Ocean, Polynesia
  São Tomé and Príncipe Two main islands Continental shelf 163,000 1,001 169.1 Atlantic Ocean, Africa
  Seychelles Archipelago Oceanic 87,500 455 192 Indian Ocean, Africa
  Solomon Islands Archipelago Oceanic 523,000 28,400 18.1 Pacific Ocean, Melanesia
  Tonga Archipelago Oceanic 104,000 748 139 Pacific Ocean, Polynesia
  Trinidad and Tobago Two main islands Continental shelf 1,299,953 5,131 254.4 Caribbean Sea, South America
  Tuvalu Archipelago Oceanic 12,373 26 475.88 Pacific Ocean, Polynesia
  United Kingdom One main island; part of second island Continental shelf 65,587,300 244,820 246 Atlantic Ocean, British Isles
  Vanuatu Archipelago Oceanic 243,304 12,190 19.7 Pacific Ocean, Melanesia

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Preamble to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: Article 46 – Use of Terms". United Nations. May 13, 2013.
  2. ^ "United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982". United Nations. May 13, 2013.
  3. ^ "2 laws UNLCOS 200 and Archipelagic States to End Spratlys Disputes: THE ARCHIPELAGIC STATES". Rebuilding for the Better Philippines. May 13, 2013.
  4. ^ "PART IV ARCHIPELAGIC STATES: Article 51 – Existing agreements, traditional fishing rights and existing submarine cables". United Nations. May 13, 2013.
  5. ^ "Island Countries Of The World". Archived from the original on 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2019-08-10.
  1. ^ a b The Cook Islands and Niue are in free association with New Zealand. See Niue Constitution Act. Tokelau is a territory of New Zealand.
  2. ^ a b c The Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau are in free association with the United States, under the Compact of Free Association.

External linksEdit