International audienceThis article focuses on islands and archipelagos around the world and considers their field of study. It aims first to trace the outline of the geographical object and its limits. Rather than attempting to provide a positive definition of an island, the article posits a category of small insular spaces. Next, by providing a thorough analysis of the notion of insularity, the study demonstrates the limits of certain physical determinisms. I propose a typology of insularities in order to open lines of inquiry and provide indications as to the levels of development and integration of small insular spaces in a world economy. However, the trends laid out in this typology should by no means be expanded into rules or laws relating to the relative influence of insularity. The position of islands in the world system does not take precedence over their relative position in relation to the main island or an industrialised home country. The influence of political status on the levels of development will also be examined
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