Mainland is defined as "relating to or forming the main part of a country or continent, not including the islands around it [regardless of status under territorial jurisdiction by an entity]."[1] The term is often politically, economically and/or demographically more significant than politically associated remote territories, such as exclaves or oceanic islands situated outside the continental shelf.

In geography, "mainland" can denote the continental (i.e. non-insular) part of any polity or the main island within an island nation. In geopolitics, "mainland" is sometimes used interchangeably with terms like metropole as an antonym to overseas territories. In the sense of "heartland", mainland is the opposite of periphery. In some language a separate concept of "mainland" is missing and is replaced with a "continental portion".

The term is relative: in Tasmania, continental Australia is the mainland, while to residents of Flinders Island, the main island of Tasmania is also "the mainland", although the geological Australian continent includes all the former plus the island of New Guinea and all the smaller islands (e.g. the Torres Strait Islands) in between.

Prominent usages of the term mainland


This list denotes prominent usages of the term "mainland" to distinguish the islands of a continent from the mainland of a continent through a geopolitical lens.


This list denotes prominent usages of the term "mainland" to distinguish between distinct regions within a single country based on an "islands-to-mainland" relationship. Note that the "mainland" can sometimes consist of a large island rather than a continental landmass.

Internal (disputed)

This list denotes prominent internal usages of the term "mainland" that are disputed.


This list denotes prominent usages of the term "mainland" to distinguish between distinct regions within an irredentist region.

See also


  1. "MAINLAND | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Archived from the original on 2017-07-20.
  2. Edles, Laura Desfor (2003). "'Race,' 'Ethnicity,' and 'Culture' in Hawai'i: The Myth of the 'Model Minority' State". In Loretta I. Winters and Herman L. DeBose (ed.) New Faces in a Changing America: Multiracial Identity in the 21st Century. SAGE Publications. p. 241. ISBN 9780761923008.
  3. "United Airlines". Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  4. Stuck at the Border, Point Roberts Residents May Get This Help Getting to the Mainland - Centralia Chronicle 17 Aug 2020
  5. (in Ukrainian) Crimean channel ATR resumes broadcasting in mainland Ukraine, Ukrayinska Pravda (4 June 2015)
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