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Title: Populated islands of the European Union : a simple matrix and what it tells us
Authors: Baldacchino, Godfrey
Pleijel, Christian
Keywords: Islands -- Europe
States, Small -- Europe
Issue Date: 2015-06-16
Citation: Baldacchino, G., & Pleijel, C. (2015). Populated islands of the European Union: A simple matrix and what it tells us. Retrieved from
Abstract: Islands present curious natural laboratories for natural and social events. Darwin (1859) and Wallace (1881) were pioneers in eschewing how archipelagos permit the development of radial speciation, with different habitats engendering conditions that favour particular species, while penalizing others. MacArthur and Wilson (1967) proposed scientific biogeographic principles that would explain the number of species living on an island at any point in time as a function of the land area of that island, plus its distance from the closest mainland. More recently, both Barthon (2007) and Royle and Scott (1996) have looked at groups of islands in France and Ireland respectively, and inferred the putative relationship that bridges, causeways and similar ‘fixed links’ have on small island populations and demographics. Baldacchino (2013) grapples with the fact that only ten of the world’s populated islands are shared between more than one country to suggest a correlation between physical geography and implicit political unity. In this exploratory paper, we attempt to develop a similar, admittedly positivist and causal narrative with reference to the inhabited islands of the member states of the European Union (EU). Armed with an up-to-date database of the number of inhabited islands belonging to the 28 member states of the EU, we cautiously propose a series of observations about islands, geography and political status that could lend themselves to, or support, some powerful and innovative policy analysis.
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