Landmasses are categorized depending on their size, and proximity to water bodies. An island is a secluded piece of land surrounded by water on all sides whereas peninsula is a piece of land surrounded by water on only three sides.

Comparison chart

Island versus Peninsula comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartIslandPeninsula
Water surrounding the landmass On all sides On three sides
Size Small or big Significant
Types Continental and Oceanic Headland, cape, promontory, bill, point, split
Access by Air and water Land, air and water
Formation Continental island are formed through a gradual break and movement away from mainland. Oceanic islands have a volcanic or coral origin. Peninsulas are formed through a gradual rise in water level, surrounding land at low elevation.
Connected to mainland Not connected By isthmus or stretch of land
Single or in groups Often found in groups Single
Inhabitation Groups of islands are usually tourist attractions, except oceanic islands that are uninhabited Usually inhabited

Access to an island and peninsula

Islands can be accessed only via air or water as they are not connected to any land masses. Peninsulas are connected to the mainland by an isthmus and hence can be accessed via land, air and water.

Types of islands and peninsulas

Channel  Island
Channel Island

Types of islands

Islands are mainly of two types, continental, and oceanic. Continental islands are part of continental masses of land that are surrounded by water on all sides. Oceanic islands are almost always formed due to volcanic activity or due to coral formation. Continental islands are inhabited whereas oceanic islands are not.

Types of peninsulas

Peninsulas are categorized into headland, cape, promontory, bill, point and split types. Headlands, cape and promontory are peninsulas that are high and steep, and often projecting out towards the water. These are hard rocky structures formed after erosion of the softer part land by the sea or ocean. A point is a tapering piece of land extending into the ocean, and a spilt is a deposition landform and is often a type of beach.

Cape Peninsula


How islands are formed

Continental islands are landmasses that broke off from the mainland a long time ago and drifted out into the sea. Oceanic islands formed due to volcanic eruptions and accumulation of lava above the surface of water, or due to accumulation of coral.

How a peninsula is formed

Most commonly, peninsulas are formed due to increases rise of water level due to increased temperatures and typically where the land is at a low elevation. Gradual rise in the water level leads the land to be surrounded by water on three sides, and develop into a peninsula.

World’s largest island and peninsula

Though the largest known island is Australia, it is known as a continent island, and Greenland is classified as the largest island. The largest peninsula is the Arabian peninsula. Groups of islands are called archipelagos and the largest known archipelago is Indonesia comprising of 18000 islands. Groups of islands are often favourite tourist destinations due to the moderate temperatures and scenic beauty associated with these landmasses.


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"Island vs Peninsula." Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 25 May 2019. < >