“In”, “at”, or “on” an island

Which one is correct?

  • There are high hills on Skye
  • There are high hills in Skye
  • There are high hills at Skye

And is it the same if I replace “Skye” with “Iceland”, “Greenland”, or “Antarctica”? And if I replace “There are high hills” with “Life is good”, “He is working”, or any other construct?

I’ve found one forum post and one SE question addressing the issue, but I’m not sure if the answer can be generalised, and I would like a more elaborate answer.


One isn’t more correct than another, as the appropriate preposition is highly dependent on context. Broadly speaking, we would use

  • on when referring to the island as a geologic or geographic feature: the roads on Hokkaido; the seed vault on Svalbard
  • in when referring to a political entity or territory: the schools in Iceland; mobile phone service in Tasmania
  • at is rarely used for islands, but can be applied if the name is used as metonymy or synecdoche: the ferry stops at Kos and at Rhodes.

As with any topic where politics is involved, usages can be tricky where a name can refer either to the geographic island or to a political entity on it; be careful about describing this as in Ireland, for example, as “Ireland” alone usually refers to the country of the Republic of Ireland, excluding the counties which are part of the UK.

Source : Link , Question Author : gerrit , Answer Author : choster

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