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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sattelite photos of peninsulas: top: The Fennoscandian Peninsula, photo by Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Florida, photo taken during STS-95; bottom: Arabian Peninsula, largest peninsula on the planet, photo by SeaWiFS

A peninsula (from Latin paeninsula; from paene 'almost', and insula 'island')[1][2] is a landform that extends from a mainland and is surrounded by water on most, but not all of its borders.[3][4][5] A peninsula is also sometimes defined as a piece of land bordered by water on three of its sides.[3][6] Peninsulas exist on all continents.[7][2] The size of a peninsula can range from tiny to very large.[7] The largest peninsula in the world is the Arabian Peninsula.[8][9]


Peninsula derives from Latin paeninsula, which is translated as 'peninsula'. Paeninsula itself was derived from paene 'almost', and insula 'island', or together, 'almost an island'.[3] The word entered English in the 16th century.[3]


Peninsulas can exist in multiple forms and situations. A peninsula may be bordered by more than one body of water, and the body of water does not have to be an ocean or a sea.[10] A piece of land on a very tight river bend or one between two rivers is sometimes said to form a peninsula, for example in the New Barbadoes Neck in New Jersey, United States.[5] A peninsula may be connected to the mainland via an isthmus, for example, in the isthmus of Corinth which connects to the Peloponnese peninsula.[11] If a peninsula is located in an inland body of water (lake, river) it is also referred to as an "inland peninsula".

There is no precise definition distinguishing peninsulas from less prominent extensions, and extensions conventionally considered peninsulas are not always named as such; they can also be referred to as a headland, cape, island promontory, bill, point, fork, or spit.[12] A point is generally considered a piece of land projecting into a body of water that is less prominent than a cape.[13]A form of the peninsula is the headland and the particularly narrow spit that has been washed up.[14][15]

Formation and types

Peninsulas can be formed from continental drift, glacial erosion, glacial meltwater, glacial deposition, marine sediment, marine transgressions, volcanoes, divergent boundaries, and/or river sedimentation.[16] More than one factor may play into the formation of a peninsula. For example, in the case of Florida, continental drift, marine sediment, and marine transgressions were all contributing factors to its shape.[17]


In the case of formation from glaciers, (e.g. the Antarctic Peninsula or Cape Cod) peninsulas can be created due to glacial erosion, meltwater, and/or deposition.[18] If erosion formed the peninsula, softer and harder rocks were present, and since the glacier only erodes softer rock, it formed a basin.[18] This may create peninsulas, and occurred for example in the Keweenaw Peninsula.[18]

In the case of formation from meltwater, melting glaciers deposit sediment and form moraines, which act as dams for the meltwater.[18] This may create bodies of water that surround the land, forming peninsulas.[18]

If deposition formed the peninsula, the peninsula was composed of sedimentary rock, which was created from a large deposit of till.[19][20] The hill of till becomes a peninsula if the hill formed near water but was still connected to the mainland, for example during the formation of Cape Cod about 23,000 years ago.[21]


In the case of formation from volcanoes, when a volcano erupts magma near water, it may form a peninsula (e.g. the Alaskan Peninsula).[19] Marine sediment may form peninsulas by the creation of limestone.[22] A rift peninsula may form as a result of a divergent boundary in plate tectonics (e.g. the Arabian Peninsula).[23] Peninsulas can also form due to sedimentation in rivers. When a river carrying sediment flows into an ocean, the sediment is deposited, forming a delta peninsula.[24]

Marine transgressions (changes in sea level) may form peninsulas, but also may affect existing peninsulas. For example, the water level may change, which causes a peninsula to become an island during high water levels.[25] Similarly, wet weather causing higher water levels can make peninsulas appear smaller, while dry weather can make them appear larger.[26] Sea level rise from global warming will permanently reduce the size of some peninsulas over time.[27]

Abridged list of peninsulas

See also


  1. ^ "peninsula". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 2016-05-01.
  2. ^ a b Nadeau 2006, p. 5.
  3. ^ a b c d HMH 2004, p. 216.
  4. ^ "Definition of peninsula". Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  5. ^ a b Kersey, Paul (23 July 2021). "What is a Peninsula?". Infoplease. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  6. ^ "list of peninsulas". Britannica. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  7. ^ a b Society, National Geographic (2011-01-21). "peninsula". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  8. ^ Mis 2009, p. 20.
  9. ^ Niz 2006, p. 19.
  10. ^ Heos 2010, p. 15.
  11. ^ Heos 2010, p. 9.
  12. ^ "List of peninsulas". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  13. ^ "Fourah Point / Fourah Point, Northern, Sierra Leone, Africa". Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Headland Landforms". Retrieved 2021-03-13.
  15. ^ heart; Working, When He Is Not; Life, He Is Probably Exploring the Secrets of (2019-06-07). "What is a Spit Landform in Geography? How are Spits Formed and 7 Most Famous Spits on Our Planet". Earth Eclipse. Retrieved 2021-03-13.
  16. ^ Mis 2009, p. 6.
  17. ^ Heos 2010, p. 8.
  18. ^ a b c d e Heos 2010, p. 31.
  19. ^ a b Nadeau 2006, p. 6.
  20. ^ Heos 2010, p. 32–33.
  21. ^ Nadeau 2006, p. 9.
  22. ^ Heos 2010, p. 21–23.
  23. ^ Nadeau 2006, p. 10.
  24. ^ Nadeau 2006, p. 13.
  25. ^ Niz 2006, p. 7.
  26. ^ Niz 2006, p. 13.
  27. ^ Nadeau 2006, p. 21.


This page was last edited on 24 May 2022, at 08:28
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