Archipelago (Or. prefix main, and sea), originally a specific name applied to the Aegean sea, but now a generic term designating any body of water containing a great number of islands, and applied also to the group of islands itself. I. The Grecian archipelago (the Aegean, in the wider sense of the word) is an arm of the Mediterranean sea, extending northward upward of 400 m., with an average breadth of about 200 m. Its geographical position is between lat. 35° and 41° N., and Ion. 2:)° and 28° E. Turkey in Europe forms its northern and northwestern coasts, Asia Minor its eastern, and Greece its western, while its southern limit is marked by the island of Candia or Crete. Within these limits the .Aegean forms an extremely irregular outline, having numerous armlets and indentations, among which may be mentioned the gulfs of Nauplia (or of Argolis), .Aegina (the Saronic), Volo (the Pagasean), and Salonica (the Ther-maic), all on the west. It is studded with a vast number of islands, ranging in size from mere rocky islets to areas of 4,000) sq. m. (Candia), and mostly composed of calcareous masses, forming high bluffs or mountain clusters, rising abruptly from the sea.
Many of the mountains reach a height of 2,000 feet, while the highest summit, on Negropont or Eubœa, exceeds 5,000 feet. The Aegean islands, exclusive of Eubœa, the largest of all, are divided into three groups, viz.: the northeastern, including the islands of Thasos, Samothrace, Im-bros, Lemnos, Tenedos, and Lesbos; the Cycla-des, forming a kind of insular continuation of Eubœa and Hellas proper (see Cyclades); and the Sporades N., E., and W. of the pre-ceding (see Sporades). Most of the Cyclades and the northern and western Sporades belong to the Greek kingdom, while Turkey possesses the northeastern group and the eastern Sporades. Many of the islands are picturesque in scenery, and all the arable portions are extremely fertile. The principal productions are silk, cotton, honey, wine, figs, raisins, oranges, and other fruits. Coral and sponge are found among the Sporades, while the Cyclades furnish the pure white marble known as the Parian, from Paros, one of the group, where it was first worked. Here also were found (about 1627) the Arundel marbles, or Parian chronicle, so full of historical interest.
In the channel of Negropont (the Eu-ripus) the tide frequently runs in a given direction at the rate of 6 to 8 m. an hour, and then suddenly, without any known cause, sets in the opposite direction at nearly the same rate. The climate of the islands is salubrious, the inhabitants are hardy, and the women noted for beauty. The localities of the Aege-an are filled with classic and sacred associations.
II. The second in importance is the Indian archipelago, which includes that extensive insular region of the eastern hemisphere, extending from the S. E. coast of Asia to Australia, embracing the Philippine group, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Celebes, and the Molucca and Panda isles, and stretching: between lat. 11° S. and 20° N., and lon. 95° and 135° E. This immense area is bounded by the Chinese sea, the Pacific, Australia, and the Indian ocean. The population of the archipelago consists of two distinct races, the Malay and the negro.