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[[Image:Desertisland.jpg|thumb|250px|right|A desert island in [[Palau]].]]
[[Image:Desertisland.jpg|thumb|250px|right|A desert island in [[Palau]].]]
A '''desert island''' or '''uninhabited island''' is an [[island]] that has yet to be (or is not currently) populated by [[human]]s. Uninhabited islands are often used in movies or stories about [[shipwreck]]ed people, and are also used as stereotypes for the idea of "[[paradise]]". Some uninhabited islands are protected as [[nature reserve]]s and some are privately owned. [[Devon Island]] in [[Canada]] is claimed to be the largest uninhabited island in the world.
A '''desert island''' is an [[island]] that is covered in sand and resembles a [[desert]] region. Desert islands are often used in movies or stories about [[shipwreck]]ed people. The term "desert" islands is often confused with the term [[deserted island]]. While an island can be both be a [[deserted island]] and a desert island, the terms are not synonymous.
Small coral [[atolls]] or islands usually have no source of [[fresh water]], but at times a [[fresh water]] lens ([[Ghyben-Herzberg lens]]) can be reached with a well.
[[Image:LakshadweepIsland.jpg|thumb|One of the uninhabited islands in [[Lakshadweep]]]]
In the phrase "desert island," the adjective "desert" connotes a "desolate and sparsely occupied or unoccupied" area and does not imply that the island was previously inhabited and later deserted.<ref>[ Merriam-Webster Online, "desert" definition 2]</ref> The term "desert island" therefore typically refers to an undiscovered island.<ref>Collins Cobuild Dictionary (1995)</ref> Note that a desert island does not have to be a [[desert]].
==List of some currently uninhabited islands==
* [[Kermadec Islands]] in South Pacific, part of [[New Zealand]]
* [[List of islands of Greece|Many small islands]] off the coast of [[Greece]].<ref>{{cite news|url=|title=German MPs suggest cash-strapped Greece should sell islands|publisher=The Local|date=March 4, 2010}}</ref>
* [[Ball's Pyramid]]
* [[Chacachacare]]
* [[De Long Islands]] in [[Arctic Ocean]], part of [[Russia]]
* [[Blasket Islands]]
* [[Navassa Island]]
* [[Bouvet Island]]
* [[Jaco (East Timor)]]
* Most of the [[Canadian Arctic Archipelago]]
* [[Clipperton Island]]
* Many [[Islands of the Maldives|islands]] in the [[Maldives]]
* Most of the [[Phoenix Islands]], part of [[Kiribati]]
* [[Heard Island and McDonald Islands]]
* Some of the [[Orkney|Orkney Islands]].
* Many islands off the coast of [[Labrador]]
* Many islands in [[Lake Nipigon]].
* Most of the [[San Juan Islands]]
* [[Santa Luzia, Cape Verde]]
* [[Skellig Michael]]
* [[Kaffeklubben Island]], [[Greenland]]
* [[Surtsey]]
* [[Tetepare Island]]
* [[Groais Island]], [[Newfoundland (island)|Newfoundland]]
* Some cays of the [[Turks and Caicos Islands]]
* Most of the [[United States Minor Outlying Islands]]
* Several entire [[atoll]]s of [[Marshall Islands|The Marshall Islands]]
* Many small islands in [[Georgian Bay]], [[Lake Huron]], [[Canada]]
* [[Michipicoten Island]], [[Lake Superior]], [[Canada]]
* Several [[Alaska]]n islands
* [[Isle Royale]]
* Many [[Islands of Hong Kong|islands]] within the waters of [[Hong Kong]]
* Most of small islands in the fractured archipelagoes in [[Kvarken]], [[Åland]] and the [[Archipelago Sea]], e.g. [[Märket]]
==In literature and popular culture==
The first known [[novel]]s to be set on a desert island were ''[[Hayy ibn Yaqdhan|Philosophus Autodidactus]]'' written by [[Ibn Tufail]] (1105–1185), followed by ''[[Ibn al-Nafis#Theologus Autodidactus|Theologus Autodidactus]]'' written by [[Ibn al-Nafis]] (1213–1288). The [[protagonist]]s in both (Hayy in ''Philosophus Autodidactus'' and Kamil in ''Theologus Autodidactus'') are [[feral child]]ren living in seclusion on a deserted island, until they eventually come in contact with [[castaway]]s from the outside world who are stranded on the island. The story of ''Theologus Autodidactus'', however, extends beyond the deserted island setting when the castaways take Kamil back to [[civilization]] with them.<ref name=Roubi>Dr. Abu Shadi Al-Roubi (1982), "Ibn Al-Nafis as a philosopher", ''Symposium on Ibn al-Nafis'', Second International Conference on Islamic Medicine: Islamic Medical Organization, Kuwait ([[cf.]] [ Ibnul-Nafees As a Philosopher], ''Encyclopedia of Islamic World'').</ref>
[[William Shakespeare]]'s 1610-11 play, ''[[The Tempest]]'', uses the idea of being stranded on a desert island as a pretext for the action of the play. [[Prospero]] and his daughter [[Miranda (The Tempest)|Miranda]] are set adrift by Prospero's treacherous brother Antonio, seeking to become [[Duke of Milan]], and Prospero in turn shipwrecks his brother and other men of sin onto the island.
A [[Latin]] translation of Ibn Tufail's ''Philosophus Autodidactus'' appeared in 1671, prepared by [[Edward Pococke]] the Younger,<ref name=Amber>Amber Haque (2004), "Psychology from Islamic Perspective: Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars and Challenges to Contemporary Muslim Psychologists", ''Journal of Religion and Health'' '''43''' (4): 357-377 [369].</ref>{{Verify source|date=May 2011}} followed by an [[English language|English]] translation by [[Simon Ockley]] in 1708,<ref>[[Simon Ockley]] (1708), ''The Improvement of Human Reason: Exhibited in the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdhan'', [[Oxford University]].</ref> as well as [[German language|German]] and [[Dutch language|Dutch]] translations.<ref name=Wainwright>Martin Wainwright, [,12084,918454,00.html Desert island scripts], ''[[The Guardian]]'', 22 March 2003.</ref> In the late 17th century, ''Philosophus Autodidactus'' inspired [[Robert Boyle]], an acquaintance of Pococke, to write his own philosophical novel set on a deserted island, ''The Aspiring Naturalist''.<ref name=Toomer>[[G. J. Toomer]] (1996), ''Eastern Wisedome and Learning: The Study of Arabic in Seventeenth-Century England'', p. 222, [[Oxford University Press]], ISBN 0-19-820291-1.</ref> Ibn al-Nafis' ''Theologus Autodidactus'' was also eventually translated into English in the early 20th century.
The quintessential deserted island novel, however, was [[Daniel Defoe]]'s 1719 novel ''[[Robinson Crusoe]]''. It is likely that Defoe took inspiration for Crusoe from a [[Scotland|Scottish]] sailor named [[Alexander Selkirk]], who was rescued in 1709 after four years on the otherwise uninhabited [[Juan Fernández Islands]]; Defoe usually made use of current events for his plots. It is also likely that he was inspired by the Latin or English translations of Ibn Tufail's ''Philosophus Autodidactus''.<ref name=Amber/><ref name=Wainwright/><ref>Nawal Muhammad Hassan (1980), ''Hayy bin Yaqzan and Robinson Crusoe: A study of an early Arabic impact on English literature'', Al-Rashid House for Publication.</ref><ref>Cyril Glasse (2001), ''New [[Encyclopedia of Islam]]'', p. 202, Rowman Altamira, ISBN 0-7591-0190-6.</ref>
[[Tom Neale]] was a New Zealander who voluntarily spent 16 years in three sessions in the 1950s and 1960s living alone on the island of [[Suwarrow]] in the northern [[Cook Islands]] group. His time there is documented in his autobiography, ''An Island To Oneself''. Significant novels set on deserted islands include ''[[The Swiss Family Robinson]]'', ''[[The Coral Island]]'', ''[[The Mysterious Island]]'', ''[[Lord of the Flies]]'', ''[[The Cay (novel)|The Cay]]'' and ''[[The Beach (novel)|The Beach]]''.
The theme of being stranded on a desert island has inspired films, such as ''[[Cast Away]]'', and TV series, like ''[[Lost (TV series)|Lost]]'' and the comedy ''[[Gilligan's Island]]''. It is also the driving force behind [[reality show]]s like ''[[Survivor (TV series)|Survivor]]'' and the [[Discovery Kids]] show [[Flight 29 Down]].
In the popular conception, such islands are often located in the [[Pacific]], [[tropical]], uninhabited and usually uncharted. They are remote locales that offer escape and force people marooned or stranded as [[castaway]]s to become self-sufficient and essentially create a new society. This society can either be [[utopian]], based on an ingenious re-creation of society's comforts (as in ''[[Swiss Family Robinson]]'' and, in a humorous form, ''[[Gilligan's Island]]'') or a regression into savagery (the major theme of both ''[[Lord of the Flies]]'' and ''[[The Beach (novel)|The Beach]]''). In reality, small coral [[atolls]] or islands usually have no source of [[fresh water]] (thus precluding any long-term human survival), but at times a [[fresh water]] lens (Ghyben-Herzberg lens) can be reached with a well.
* The [[BBC]] Radio 4 program ''[[Desert Island Discs]]'' asks well-known people what items they would take with them to a deserted island. The program has inspired many similar articles, contests, and projects, including "desert island books," "desert island movies," and so on.
* A [[message in a bottle]] is a form of communication often associated with people stranded on a deserted island attempting to be rescued.
* Desert islands also figure largely in [[sexual fantasy|sexual fantasies]], with the top "dream vacation" for heterosexual men surveyed by ''[[Psychology Today]]'' being "marooned on a tropical island with several members of the opposite sex."<ref>[[Thurston Clarke|Clarke, Thurston]], ''Searching for Crusoe'' (New York: Ballantine, 2001), 6.</ref>
* A man on a deserted island is also a hugely popular image for [[gag cartoon]]s, the island being conventionally depicted as just a few yards across with a single palm tree.
==Historical castaways==
{{See also|Castaway}}
One report describes a [[France|Frenchman]] who went mad after two years of solitude on [[Mauritius]]. He tore his clothing to pieces in a fit of madness brought on by a diet of nothing but raw [[turtle]]s. Another story has to do with a [[Netherlands|Dutch]] seaman who was left alone on the island of [[Saint Helena]] as punishment. He fell into such despair that he disinterred the body of a buried comrade and set out to sea in the coffin. Another castaway, the Spaniard [[Pedro Serrano]], was rescued after seven and a half years of solitude. In 1820, the crew of the whaleship, [[Essex (whaleship)|Essex]], spent time on uninhabited [[Henderson Island (Pitcairn Islands)|Henderson Island]] where they gorged on birds, fish, and vegetation and found a small freshwater spring. After they depleted the island's resources most of the crew left on three whaleboats, while three of the men decided to remain on the island and ended up living there. {{Citation needed|date=March 2009}}
==See also==
* ''[[Desert Island Discs]]''
* [[List of uninhabited regions]]
* [[Marooning]]
* [[Shipwreck]]
* [[Stowaway]]
* [[Saltwater intrusion]]
==External links==
{{Commons category|Uninhabited islands}}
* [ The Straight Dope: Are there actual cases of castaways who have been rescued?]
* [ Russian islomaniacs]
{{DEFAULTSORT:Desert Island}}
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Revision as of 14:17, 29 August 2012

A desert island in Palau.

A desert island is an island that is covered in sand and resembles a desert region. Desert islands are often used in movies or stories about shipwrecked people. The term "desert" islands is often confused with the term deserted island. While an island can be both be a deserted island and a desert island, the terms are not synonymous.