A peninsula is a piece of land that extends into a water body, and is surrounded by water on the majority of its borders (three sides) but is connected to a larger mainland on one side. The surrounding water body may not necessarily be named as a single body of water but is continuous. Also, a peninsula is not always named as such, it can often also be, a headland, cape, island promontory, bill or point. Varying in sizes, they could range from the Arabian Peninsula, one of the largest peninsulas in the world to much smaller ones. Whereas rarely, the meandering of a river is also said to form a peninsula, within a tight loop of water. For example, the entire continent of Europe is also considered to be a large peninsula jutting out of Eurasia.
Another geographical feature closely associated with the peninsula is the isthmus. An isthmus, is a narrow piece of land, connecting two landmasses, with water on either side. Hence, the connecting landmass of the peninsular with the mainland can be narrow and be called an isthmus.
The Arabian Peninsula: A peninsula of Western Asia, it is situated in the Northeast of Africa on the Arabian plate. Being the largest peninsula on the earth, it features an area of 1,250,000 square miles. The peninsula consists of Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE and parts of Jordan and Iraq. The peninsula is believed to have formed by the drifting of the Red Sea. Hence, it is bordered by the Red Sea on the West and the Southwest, the Persian Gulf to the Northeast and the Indian Ocean to the Southeast. It is connected to the levant in the North. Largely unsuitable for agricultural activities, the peninsula holds geo-political significance owing to its vast resources of oil and natural gas.
The (Indian) Deccan Peninsula: Surrounded by Arabian Sea to the West, Bay of Bengal to the east and Indian Ocean to the south, the Indian peninsula is the second largest peninsula in the world. It covers an area of 800,004 square miles and is located in the Southern part of central India. Comprising of the Eastern and Western Ghats, the peninsula is rich in biodiversity and is home to a tiger reserve of national importance. The climate in this region ranges from semi-arid to tropical type. It is inclusive of eight Indian states and the people largely indulge in agricultural practices.
The Indochina Peninsula: Also known as Mainland Southeast Asia, it is the continental portion of Southeast Asia, and lies east of India and south of China. The Indian Ocean bounds the region to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Projecting southwards from the Asian continent, it features several mountain ranges like the Tibetan Plateau to the north. The peninsula, includes Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam and covers an area of 748,553 square miles. Additionally, the southernmost part of Indochina peninsula protrudes to form the Malay Peninsula, which regions Southern Thailand and peninsular Malaysia.
The Horn of Africa: Large extension of land protruding from the Eastern edge of the African continent, the Horn of Africa is the fourth largest peninsula in the world. It comprises of four countries of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. Also called the Somali Peninsular, it is surrounded by the Gulf of Aden to the north, Indian ocean to the east and extends into the Arabian Sea for hundreds of miles. The landmass is a vast 726,975 square miles in area. It hosts the highest number of reptiles, whereas the locals participate in livestock herding and export coffee and bananas.
The Alaska Peninsula: Separating the Pacific Ocean from the Bristol Bay, which is an arm of Bering Sea, the peninsula extends about 497 miles to the Southwest from the mainland of Alaska and ends at Aleutian Islands. The term ‘Alaska Peninsula’ denotes the Northwestern projection of the North American continent. It is surrounded by Arctic Sea in the north, Bering Strait in the west and Pacific Sea to the south, with an area cover of 579,153 square miles. Running along the length of the peninsula, the Aleutian Range is a highly active volcanic mountain range, and is home to numerous wildlife refuges and national parks.
The Labrador Peninsula: The peninsula in the Eastern Canada, extends over an area of 540,543 square miles. It consists of the Canadian provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and the province of Quebec. It is bound by the Hudson Bay to the west, the Hudson Strait to the north, the Labrador Sea to the East and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to the Southeast. It connects to the mainland in the Southwest only. The peninsula features rivers valleys, mountain ranges and national parks. The peninsula, owing to being covered in the Canadian shield, has numerous lakes.
The Scandinavian Peninsula: A large promontory of the northern Europe, comprises of Sweden, Norway and the Northwestern area of Finland. Deriving its name from the cultural region of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, the Scandinavian Peninsula is one of the largest peninsulas of Europe. Spread over an area of 289,577 square miles, it is bordered by the Barents Sea to the north, the Norwegian Sea to the west, the North Sea and Baltic Sea to the south. A quarter of the peninsula lies north of the Arctic Circle, the climates varies from tundra to subarctic with cool marine coast lines in the West.
The Balkan Peninsula: Rooting its name from the Balkans Mountain Range, the Balkan Peninsula is a geographical region in the Southeastern Europe. It is neighbored by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and southeast and the Black Sea on the east and the northeast. It spreads across 181,000 square miles of area, without a well-defined northern boundary. It comprises of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and North Turkey.
The Iberian Peninsula: Also referred to as Iberia, the peninsula is located in the southwestern Europe. It is principally divided between the Spanish and Portugal territory, but also includes Andorra and a small part of France as well as Gibraltar on its South coast. With an expanse of 225,000 square miles, it is the second largest European peninsula, after the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on the Southeast and East and by the Atlantic Ocean on the north, west and southwest. It is in close proximity to the northwest African coast, separated by the Strait of Gibraltar and Mediterranean Sea.
The Kamchatka Peninsula: The region of about 100,000 square miles is located in the Russian Far East. The eastern and the western Coastlines are made up by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk, respectively. The region features the volcanoes of Kamchatka, which is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The region faces moderately cool summers and stormy winters. Collectively, the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Commander Islands and the Karaginsky Island constitute the Kamchatka Krai of the Russian Federation.
Below given table mentions the details of the world’s largest peninsulas:
|Peninsulas||Size (Square Miles)||Location|
|Deccan peninsula||800,004||South Asia|
|Indochina Peninsula||748,553||Southeast Asia|
|Horn of Africa||726,975||East Africa|
|Labrador Peninsula||540,543||North America|
|Scandinavian Peninsula||289,577||North Europe|
|The Balkans||257,414||Southeast Europe|
|Iberian Peninsula||224,711||Southwest Europe|
|Kamchatka Peninsula||100,000||Far East Russia|