Bàngchuí Island in Dalian, Liaoning, China, is a typical rock islet
Mōkōlea Rock in Kailua Bay, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, 2.2 kilometres (1.4 mi) off North Beach, Marine Corps Base Hawaii

An islet is a very small, often unnamed island. Most definitions are not precise, but some suggest that an islet has little or no vegetation and cannot support human habitation. It may be made of rock, sand and/or hard coral; may be permanent or tidal (i.e. surfaced reef or seamount); and may exist in the sea, lakes, rivers or any other sizeable bodies of water.


Danes on the islet Danmark in Norway. It is a typical Nordic skerry.

As suggested by its origin islette, an Old French diminutive of "isle",[1] use of the term implies small size, but little attention is given to drawing an upper limit on its applicability.

The World Landforms website says, "An islet landform is generally considered to be a rock or small island that has little vegetation and cannot sustain human habitation", and further that size may vary from a few square feet to several square miles, with no specific rule pertaining to size.[2]

Other terms

A Tahitian motu off the island of Raiatea at sunset
Rockall, located west of Ireland and Scotland

In international law

Islets involved in ICJ cases
Filfla (1985)

Whether an islet is considered a rock or not, it can have significant economic consequences under Article 121 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which stipulates that "Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf." One long-term dispute over the status of such an islet was that of Snake Island (Black Sea).[9][10][11]

The International Court of Justice jurisprudence however sometimes ignores islets, regardless of inhabitation status, in deciding territorial disputes; it did so in 2009 in adjudicating the Romania-Ukraine dispute, and previously in the dispute between Libya and Malta involving the islet of Filfla.[9][12]

List of islets

There are thousands of islets on Earth: approximately 24,000 islands and islets in the Stockholm archipelago alone. The following is a list of example islets from around the world.


  1. ^ Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, 1958
  2. ^ "Islet Landforms". World Landforms of the Earth. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Eyot". World Wide Words. 21 June 2003. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  4. ^ "Definition of eyot". www.dictionary.com. 20 April 2020. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  5. ^ Misachi, John (5 April 2019). "What is an Ait? Ait Defintion [sic]". WorldAtlas. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  6. ^ Sears, Robert (1847). A New and Popular Pictorial Description of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the British Islands (6th ed.). R. Sears. pp. 479–481. Original from University of Iowa, Digitized 9 Mar 2015
  7. ^ "Motus – What They Are and Why They're Key to the Tahiti Experience". LandLopers. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Floristic composition and vegetation classification of the Penghu Southern Four Islands". Marine National Park Headquarters. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  9. ^ a b Coalter G. Lathrop (July 22, 2009) "Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea (Romania v. Ukraine)". American Journal of International Law, Vol. 103. SSRN 1470697
  10. ^ Ukraine, Romania spar over islet, UPI 2006-7-14
  11. ^ Romania and Ukraine avoid rocky horror show Archived 2018-03-15 at the Wayback Machine, Euronews, 03/02/09
  12. ^ Hance D. Smith (1991). The Development of Integrated Sea Use Management. Taylor & Francis. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-415-03816-4.