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Islet facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Islets are small islands. Examples are Ortac in the English Channel and the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.


Danmark Sandvika Bærum
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", use of the term implies small size, but little attention is given to drawing an upper limit on its applicability.

  • Cay or Key – an islet formed by the accumulation of fine sand deposits atop a reef
  • Motu – A reef islet formed by broken coral and sand, surrounding an atoll.
  • River island – A small islet within the current of a river.
  • RockA "rock", in the sense of a type of islet, is an uninhabited landform composed of rock, lying offshore, and having at most minimal vegetation.
  • Sandbar – An exposed sandbar is another type of islet.
  • Sea stack – A thin, vertical landform jutting out of a body of water.
  • Skerry – A small rocky island, usually defined to be too small for habitation.
  • Subsidiary islets – A more technical application is to small land features, isolated by water, lying off the shore of a larger island. Likewise, any emergent land in an atoll is also called an islet.
  • Tidal island – Often small islands (not necessarily always islets) which lie off the mainland of an area, being connected to it in low tide and isolated in high tide.

Synonymous terms

Tahitian sunset
A Tahitian motu off the island of Raiatea at sunset
  • In the Caribbean and West Atlantic, islets are often called cays or keys. Rum Cay in the Bahamas and the Florida Keys off Florida are examples of islets.
  • In the Channel Islands, they are often identified by the suffix -hou from the Norse -holm.
  • In Scotland and Ireland, they are often called inches, from the Gaelic innis, which originally meant island, but has been supplanted to refer to smaller islands. In Ireland they are often termed skerries.
  • In and around Polynesia, islets are widely known by the term motu, from the term for the coral-rubble islets common to the region.
  • In and around the River Thames in England, small islands are known as aits or eyots.

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Islet Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.