Oceans and coastlines form an indispensable part of the geography, culture, and economy of any country. From various economic activities like trade, shipping, fishing, and tourism to cultural and historical impact on the people, the coastlines have a life of their own. According to the coastline paradox, the coastline does not have a well-defined length. The total measurement of the coastline will be fractal meaning it will be different at different scale intervals and it will also depend on the distance between points on the coastline at which measurements are taken. The smaller the scale interval the more detailed the measurement of the coastline. Here is a list of countries with longest coastlines in the world.
Countries With Longest Coastline
1. Canada- 202,080 km
Apart from being the country with the longest coastline, Canada is also the second largest country in the world. It is bordered by three oceans – the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the East and the Arctic Ocean to the north. In fact, all except two provinces in Canada have a coastline of their own. Because of the large geographical expanse, the coastlines have different ecosystems and wildlife. Canada is also one of the coldest countries in the world. Moreover, since Canada has many Island surrounding the mainland, the coastline area increases manifold. Canada is also one of the happiest countries in the world.
The mainland coast of Canada includes the islands of Newfoundland, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island. The character of the coastline depends n various factors such as topography, geology, availability of sediment, the prevailing processes of wind, wave, sea ice and tidal conditions and long-term factors such as GLACIATION and relative changes in the sea. The coastal landforms are the beach and salt marsh.
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2. Indonesia- 54,720 km
This South-east Asian country is not very large but is made up of many islands and has a total coastline of 54,720 km. The islands and coastlines exhibit a great diversity in terms of habitat and ecosystem. Some islands have dense mangrove vegetation while others have been fully used for building infrastructure and developing them as tourist attractions. In Indonesia, the smaller islands are more popular with tourists since they are more picturesque.
The country claims all waters around its territory upto 12 nautical miles (22 km/14 mi). The coastline of the northeastern coast of Sumatra and the coasts of Kalimantan and Papua are somewhat low and swampy with extensive mangrove forests. The area contains some of the world’s best surfing beaches that attracts tourists across the world. The coast forms a very important part of the economy of this country since many activities like fishing, prawn cultivation and tourism are dependent on the coast.
3. Greenland- 44,087 km
This country located in the extreme north between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans is a biodiversity hub because of the unique habitat it has on the coast. The cold climate makes this country home to some arctic animals like Arctic foxes, lemmings, birds and polar bears while the aquatic species to flourish here due to the undisturbed surroundings. Narwhales, beluga whales, and blue whales are found off the coast of Greenland making it a popular destination for studying marine biology.
The coastline and its waters are home to an impressive place of wildlife and marine animals such as Fin, Minke and Humpback Whales, Narwhal and Beluga. Greenland has around 52 bird species and home to more terrestrial mammal species. The glaciers in the island produce huge icebergs that are abundant in the Greenlandic waters. Greenland is largest island in the world carrying 8 per cent of the total fresh water available on Earth in the form of ice sheets.
4. Russia-37,653 km
The largest country in the world in terms of area, Russia is also one of the countries with longest coastlines in the world. The country is surrounded by multiple oceans and seas – Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Black Sea, Caspian Sea and Sea of Azov and the total length of its coastline is over 23000 miles. The major cities in Russia too are located along the coast and very few populated cities are present inland. St. Petersburg, Vladivostok, Yalta and Kaliningrad are all coastal cities.
The Russia Arctic territory is dominated by three rivers that include the Yenisey River in the west discharges in the Kara Sea, the Lena River empties in the Laptev Sea, and the Kolyma River ends in the East Siberian Sea. The temperature across the Russia’s the Arctic and sub-Arctic territory are one of the coldest recorded outside Antarctica. It is also one of the countries with largest forest area in the world.
5. Philippines- 36,289 km
The Philippines has a very small land area and compared to this, the coastline is very long. This is mainly because it is a nation of islands and consists of more than 7500 islands of different sizes. The islands are of a very irregular shape and have many water bodies that continue inland. Like Russia, most of the major cities in the Philippines too are coastal cities and they are more densely populated than cities located inland. Fishing is a major economic activity in the Philippines and many households depend on it as a sustenance activity.
The country has total 7,107 islands and approximately 1000 are occupied. It has beautiful seaside towns that offer the tourist and it would be tough for you to decide where to visit. Some of the popular destinations across the country coastline are the blue lagoon, Pagudpud, Luzon island, El Nido islands, Palaui Island, Tubbataha reefs natural park and Boracay. The country is quite famous for its white sand beaches and unforgettable landscape. Beaches and spectacular marine beauty also attract many tourists to this country making tourism one of the main businesses.
6. Japan- 29,751 km
The most technologically and economically advanced Asian country, Japan has a very small area but since it consists of over 6000 islands. hence, it is one of the countries with longest coastlines. The coastline is very large of over 18000 miles. Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku are the main four islands that are the most densely populated and have the highest economic activity. Japan also has some of the largest seaports in the world and this trade is possible only because of its long coastline. Fishing, whaling, and other aquaculture related activities are practised by many and agriculture too are concentrated around the coastal cities because of the easy accessibility of resources.
7. Australia- 25,760 km
This large country has one of the longest coastlines in the world because of the sheer size of the landmass. Australia has a coastline of just over 16000 miles and has more than 10000 beaches. There are a wide variety of natural formations on the coastline like mangroves, coves, caves, coral reefs, and cliffs. This has boosted the tourism industry in Australia and today it forms an important part of the economy. Most of the major Australian cities too are located along the coast and almost all the population lives on the coast.
8. NORWAY- 25,000 km
Norway is on the Scandinavian Peninsula along with Finland and Sweden and consists of many islands and archipelagos apart from the mainland. It is surrounded by the North Atlantic Ocean, Arctic Ocean and Barnet’s Sea and has many unique geological features along the coast. Oslo, the capital of Norway is located close to the sea and like other countries on this list, most major cities in Norway to are situated along the coast. Norway is famous for the spectacular atmospheric phenomenon called Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. Jostedalsbreen Glacier located in Norway is one of the most beautiful glaciers in the world.
9. The United States of America- 19,924 km
The United States of America is one of the countries with the largest coastlines since it is surrounded by four water bodies – Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Because of its strategic position in the middle of the important shipping and trade lanes, the US has a natural geopolitical advantage that it has effectively used in the past. Of the fifty states, 23 have their own coastline and Alaska has the longest coast of over 6000 miles. Some of the cities in the US listed under best beach cities in the world. The US has a 12380-mile-long seaboard. Cape Coral, a city in Florida, based in the United States is known as one of the most beautiful canal cities in the world.
10. Antarctica- 17,968 km
The southernmost continent on Earth, this frozen land has a coastline of over 11000 miles and is covered perpetually in ice. The vast number and types of ice formations on the Antarctic coast give it a unique appearance and it is also home to some very peculiar wildlife. The penguins live on the coast of this continent and many aquatic animals like whales, orcas, and seals can be spotted here. The southern edges of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans together from the Southern Ocean and surrounding Antarctica on all sides. It is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination but scientists fear that the damage done by a large number of tourists could harm the endemic wildlife.
The southernmost continent on the South Pole has 98% area covered by ice that averages 1.9 kilometres (1.2 miles) in thickness. The fifth largest continent in the world contains 90% of all the ice on the planet and hence 70% of the world’s fresh water. Antarctica is classified as a desert despite its thick ice because very little moisture falls from the sky and hence it is considered as the coldest, driest, and windiest continent. The highest peak in Antarctica is Mount Vinson with an elevation of 4,897 meters and the lowest point is within the Bentley Subglacial Trench which reaches 2,555 meters below sea level.
Beaches and sand are every vacationer’s dream but all the countries with longest coastlines may be under threat because f multiple factors we as humans choose to turn a blind eye to. The disastrous effects of global warming are beginning to take their toll on the coastlines of the world as rising sea levels threaten the very existence of the coastal cities mentioned in this list. If the trend is not reversed immediately, the geography of the world will irreparably change for the worse and we will just have to stand back and watch as our beloved beaches get swallowed up by the water. These are the 10 countries with longest coastline. Do post your comments.