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 island. Most definitions are not precise, but some suggest that an islet has little or no vegetation, and cannot support human habitation. They may be made of rock, sand, and/or coral, may be permanent or tidal, and may exist in the sea, rivers, or any other body of water.


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

As suggested by its origin as 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)
Snake Island
Snake Island (2009)

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.