The archipelago is separated from the mainland by the Geelvink Channel. The islands extend over a length of 75 kilometers, with a width 16-21 km.
For archipelago includes over 120 islands and reefs, extending in the form of a nearly parallel to the coast chain of islands about 100 km. The group is divided into three island regions, which are separated by narrow straits (from north to south):
- Wallabi Islands ( Wallabi Group - including North Iceland )
- Easter Group
- Pelsaert Islands ( Pelsaert Group)
The largest islands are West Wallabi Iceland ( 6.21 km ²), East Wallabi Iceland ( 3.27 km ²), North Iceland (1.82 km ²), Pelsaert Iceland (1.56 km ² ) and Council of Iceland (0.65 km ²). These five islands unite more than 82 percent of the total area of the archipelago up.
The archipelago was discovered at the end of the 16th century by Portuguese sailors. Because of the numerous shoals and rugged coral reefs, which are sometimes barely visible, or only a few centimeters below the water game, was the region as a highly dangerous for shipping, especially for the former timber ships. The area was probably why at first apparently named alone with the art word Abrolhos, derived from a Portuguese phrase " abri Vossos olhos - keep on the eyes."
It was only in 1619 charted the Dutch astronomer and navigator Frederick de Houtman ( 1571-1627 ), underway on a research trip along the coast of Western Australia, the Abrolhos, and named the island region, by prefixing its name, Houtman Abrolhos now.
One of the most treacherous Riffbänke the islands was posted on June 4, 1629 the Dutch merchant ship Batavia undoing. The sailing ship was stranded, but could still about 300 people on board save to nearby uninhabited islands. However, the temporary community of survivors fell apart quickly. The castaways were terrorized by a group of mutineers of Batavia, citing a failed pharmacist, Jerome Cornelisz and mostly murdered.
The archipelago is considered because of the numerous ships which sank off the reefs today as a true paradise for wreck and scuba diver, although none of the islands is permanently inhabited by humans.
The islands belong administratively to the Shire of Northampton.
All the islands are uninhabited. However, be seasonally inhabited by over 150 lobster fishermen and their families 22 of the islands for a few months.