Island Studies Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2006, pp. 3-18
Islands, Island Studies, Island Studies Journal
Island Studies Programme
University of Prince Edward Island
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Islands are sites of innovative conceptualizations, whether of nature or human enterprise,
whether virtual or real. The study of islands on their own terms today enjoys a growing
and wide-ranging recognition. This paper celebrates the launch of Island Studies Journal
in the context of a long and thrilling tradition of island studies scholarship.
Keywords: islands, island studies.
Copyright © 2006. Institute of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada.
• There are some 550 million people living on islands: around 10% of the world=s
• Islands1 occupy just 1.86% of the Earth’s surface area2, but 13.1% (106 out of
812) of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites (as at February 2006) are on islands or
else are islands in toto (UNESCO World Heritage web-site).
• No fewer than 43 (22%) of the world=s sovereign states are exclusively island
states; and many states have one or more island regions or sub-national
jurisdictions (CIA, 2005).
• Innovative forms of sovereignty tend to involve islands, especially small islands.
Åland, Aruba, Bermuda, the Isle of Man, Mayotte, Puerto Rico and dozens of
other island territories have struck unique status arrangements with much larger
national or supra-national bodies. Many of these island territories, even if former
1 Australia & Antarctica are excluded; but such a decision is contestable. Data from Global Shoreline
Database: www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/shorelines/gshhs.html. This data set is made up of 180,498 islands.
2 This drops to just 1.47% if one excludes Greenland. My thanks to Christian Depraetere for this information.