Longest Coastlines in the World

Aerial View Of Trees By Sea

Reese Lassman / EyeEm/Getty Images 

Geographical lists often rank countries by different measurements of size, such as area, and sometimes those rankings can be pretty easy to guess. But the countries have the longest coastlines can be more difficult to determine; every little every inlet and fjord makes the coastline measurement longer, and surveyers have to decide how deeply to measure each of these curves and indentations. And, for nations that have offshore islands, including all of those in a country's total coastline can alter the calculations greatly—and thus the rankings on lists such as this.

Note that with upgrades in mapping techniques, figures like these reported below are subject to change. Newer equipment may take more precise measurements. 

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Length: 125,567 miles (202,080 km)

Most of the provinces of Canada have coastline, either on the Pacific, Atlantic or Arctic Oceans. If you walked 12 miles of coastline per day, it would take 33 years to cover it all. 

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Length: 64,000 miles (103,000 km)

Norway's coastline length was recalculated in 2011 by the Norwegian Mapping Authority to include all its 24,000 islands and fjords, growing even over its previous estimate of 52,817 miles (85,000 km). It could stretch two and a half times around Earth.

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Length: 33,998 miles (54,716 km)

The 13,700 islands that make up Indonesia account for its large amount of coastline. Because it's in a collision zone between several plates of Earth's crust, the region is ripe for earthquakes, potentially changing the nation's extensive coastline.

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Length: 23,397 miles (37,653 km)

In addition to Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic Ocean shorefront, Russia also borders several seas, including the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Caspian Sea, and the Sea of Azov. Many major cities and tourist resorts in the country are coastal.

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The Philippines

Length: 22,549 miles (36,289 km)

About 60 percent of the population of the Philippines (and 60 percent of its cities) are coastal. Manila Bay, its main shipping port, has 16 million people alone. Manila, the capital, is among the world's densest in population.

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Length: 18,486 miles (29,751 km)

Japan is made up of 6,852 islands. Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu are the four largest. As an island nation, fishing and aquaculture, and even whaling, have been significant to its people throughout the country's long history. On the "ring of fire" earthquake zone, an earthquake happens large enough to be measured by scientists every three days in Tokyo.

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Length: 16,006 miles (25,760 km)

Eighty-five percent of Australia's population lives on its coasts, with 50 to 80 percent of each state living in its coastal urban areas, so not only is the population clustered on its coasts, it's also mainly centered in its major cities, leaving most of the continent natural wilderness and empty of people.

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United States

Length: 12,380 miles (19,924 km)

The coastline may be 12,000 miles, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but the total shoreline is estimated 95,471 miles by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, that also encompasses territories' shoreline, such as Puerto Rico, shoreline along the Great Lakes, and "sounds, bays, rivers, and creeks were included to the head of the tidewater or to a point where tidal waters narrow to a width of 100 feet," it noted.

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New Zealand

Length: 9,404 miles (15,134 km)

New Zealand's extensive coastline includes more than 25 nature preserves. Surfers will enjoy Taranaki’s Surf Highway 45, which has some of the best surfing in the country.

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Length: 9,010 miles (14,500 km)

Rivers are among the forces (such as tectonics, typhoons, and currents), that have shaped China's coastline, such as by depositing sediment on its beaches. In fact, the Yellow River is the world's largest as far as amount of sediment it contains, and the Yangtze River is fourth in water discharge.   

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Briney, Amanda. "Longest Coastlines in the World." ThoughtCo, Apr. 14, 2021, thoughtco.com/longest-coastlines-in-the-world-4164138. Briney, Amanda. (2021, April 14). Longest Coastlines in the World. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/longest-coastlines-in-the-world-4164138 Briney, Amanda. "Longest Coastlines in the World." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/longest-coastlines-in-the-world-4164138 (accessed June 2, 2023).