Saturday, August 23, 2008

the comparison of islands

Life has thrown many islands at me, and I like a good geography problem. So if one has just visited Santa Cruz Island off the California coast, and is then asked by someone on Long Island, NY what the relative size of it is, then the time has come to compare the land areas of various familiar islands.

Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the Channel Islands, is 96.5 square miles, making it close in size to Martha's Vineyard (91 sq. mi.) and St. Croix (82 sq. mi.). It is nowhere near as large as Long Island, which at 1,401 square miles is the largest island of the United States mainland (both Alaska and Hawaii are full of significantly larger islands).

Long Island is flanked by two much smaller islands of approximately the same size -- Shelter Island (27 sq. mi.) and Manhattan (22.9 sq. mi.). Could you imagine if the country's largest city was built on the former, and the latter was an obscure summer destination?

At 3,515 square miles, the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico could fit about two and one half Long Islands. At 4,244 square miles, nearby Jamaica could fit exactly three Long Islands. This is a great way of teaching your children math and geography.


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