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Mainland is a contiguous landmass that is larger and 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.
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".
Prominent uses of the term mainland
- Mainland Argentina, as opposed to Tierra del Fuego Province (including Argentinian Antarctic claims), as well as other islands of Argentina
- Mainland Australia, as opposed to the island of Tasmania and other Australian islands, especially those not part of Australia proper.
- Mainland Brazil, as opposed to Abrolhos, Fernando de Noronha, Ilhabela, Saint Peter and Saint Paul and Trindade and Martim Vaz.
- Mainland Canada, as opposed to Canadian Islands, particularly those in the Maritimes or in the Arctic
- Mainland China (including the island of Hainan), as opposed to the special administrative regions along the south coast and islands controlled by Republic of China, or more generally any islands of China, regardless of administrative status
- Mainland Chile, as opposed to remote islands of the Chilean Sea and Chilean Antarctic claims, as well as offshore islands of Chile such as the Chiloé Archipelago
- the Cuban Mainland, as opposed to the Canarreos Archipelago and other islands of Cuba
- Mainland Denmark, as opposed to overseas parts of the Danish Realm; geographically, Denmark proper consists of a continental portion called Jutland and nearby Danish Isles
- Mainland Ecuador, as opposed to the Galapagos Islands and other islands of Ecuador
- Mainland Equatorial Guinea, as opposed to the non-continental parts of the country
- Mainland Estonia, as opposed to the West Estonian archipelago with two of the fifteen counties and other islands of Estonia
- Mainland Europe, from the perspective of the British Isles, means the continental part of Europe, while from a Nordic perspective, refers more vaguely to continental Europe south of the Scandinavian Peninsula
- Mainland Finland, as opposed to the Åland Islands; historically, Finland proper made up the southwestern portion of the mainland
- Mainland France, as opposed to Corsica and other islands within European France; also used loosely as an antonym of Overseas France, despite the fact that the term Metropolitan France is more apt
- Mainland Greece (including and the island of Euboia), as opposed to the Greek Islands and the Greek part of Cyprus
- the main island of Iceland, as opposed to other islands of Iceland
- Mainland India, as opposed to its insular union territories or any other islands of India
- the mainland part of Ireland, as opposed to its offshore islands
- Mainland Italy, as opposed to its Insular Regions or any other islands of Italy
- Mainland Japan, as opposed to the other Home Islands, or to remote islands of Japan, such as the Nanpo Islands
- Mainland Korea as opposed to Jejudo and other islands of North or South Korea
- the main island of Madagascar, as opposed to other islands of Madagascar
- Mainland Malaysia as opposed to East Malaysia or to any islands of Malaysia
- Mainland Malta, as opposed to Gozo and other islands of Malta
- Mainland Netherlands as opposed to the Dutch Caribbean; the Netherlands proper contains numerous offshore islands
- Mainland New Zealand, is the two main islands, the largest of which, the South Island is sometimes referred to as the "Mainland" alone
- Mainland Norway, as opposed to Svalbard and other islands of Norway, including its overseas dependencies
- the mainland part of Papua New Guinea, as opposed to the Islands Region or to any other islands of Papua New Guinea
- Mainland Portugal, as opposed to its insular regions, or more broadly to any islands of Portugal; until 1975, the term "mainland" was used loosely as an antonym of overseas Portugal
- Mainland Spain as opposed to the Balearic and Canary Islands and other lands under Spanish sovereignty; cf. the colonial-era term peninsulares
- the main island of Sri Lanka, as opposed to other islands of Sri Lanka
- the main island of Taiwan, as opposed to Kinmen and other islands of Taiwan
- the core part of Ukraine, as opposed to Crimea, which is nonetheless geographically part of the European mainland.
- the British mainland, as opposed to Northern Ireland and the many smaller islands that make up the UK. The largest islands within the Northern Isles are called Orkney Mainland and Shetland Mainland, respectively.
- Mainland United States, as opposed to the Hawaiian Islands and to U.S. island territories in Pacific or Caribbean. The term contiguous United States is more widely used, and refers to the 48 adjoining U.S. states on the continent of North America, excluding the non-contiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii.
- The South Island of New Zealand is sometimes jokingly called the Mainland or the main island, especially by South Islanders themselves. Though it has a far smaller population, it is slightly larger than the North Island. "Mainland New Zealand" more commonly refers to the archipelago made up of the North and South Island and smaller nearby islands, often excluding more outlying islands such as the Chatham Islands, and always excluding remote insular parts of the Realm of New Zealand
- Main or Big Land--in Russia--as opposed to Minor Land, islands, or other isolated territories that are connected by water or air travel but not by paved road.