The World's Largest Coral Atoll

News reports and tourist literature often refer to Niue Island as "the world's largest coral atoll." Not so. At 264 square kilometers, Niue isn't even close.

At 1,196 square kilometers, Lifou Island in New Caledonia is the world's largest uplifted atoll. Neighboring Mare Island (657 square kilometers) is also much bigger than Niue. Rennell Island in the Solomon Islands measures 660 square kilometers.

In French Polynesia, Rangiroa Atoll is sometimes called the South Pacific's largest true atoll. Wrong again. Rangiroa measures a mere 1,020 square kilometers, while Ontong Java Atoll in the Solomon Islands is 1,400 square kilometers.

Most "experts" do get it right when asked to name the world's largest true atoll: Weighing in at 2,174 square kilometers, it's Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands of Micronesia.

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