What is Archipelago/meaning/concept

The word archipelago is a term representative of geography. It is used to name a series of islands and islets that are part of a set at a close distance from each other.

There are no established criteria to determine the number of islands needed to form an archipelago

This denomination can be variable in relation to the quantity. There may be thousands of islands or a very small number.

Etymologically the word archipelago is formed by the prefix “arqui” which means superior and “piélagos” which means sea. Still, it should be noted that this term was used in antiquity to name the Aegean Sea.

Archipelagos are formed by layers of land and the sea that surrounds them. Therefore, it is a geographical concept that combines the terrestrial with the maritime element.

It is quite common that this group of islands has a volcanic origin, in which it is formed by several stages or cycles. Another of their peculiarities is that they are usually not located close to the coast.

Generally, archipelagos describe a marine ecosystem with common characteristics and some peculiarities in each island

In fact, there are species that are endemic to only one of the islands in the archipelago.

One of the most important archipelagos is the Galapagos Islands. Its relevance has several aspects, as it is a heritage of humanity and a reference in nature research . However, its protagonism has a unique component, since it was in the Galapagos that Charles Darwin found the necessary evidence to conclude his theory on the natural selection of species, also known as the theory of evolution .

Exceptionally, the archipelagos are located in fresh water and are part of a river. This is what happens with the Rio Negro, located in the state of Amazonas ( Brazil ), where the Anavilhanas Archipelago, formed by 400 islands, is located. Fluvial archipelagos are uncommon on the planet, yet some of them are found in the Amazon basin.

Finally, it can be said that the term archipelago has a literary peculiarity. Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn named his main work “The Gulag Archipelago”, a novel that denounces the repression of the Soviet system and uses this geographical concept as a synonym for an isolated place . The prison system described is part of a kind of archipelago separated from the world.

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