The world is home to many islands famous for their beauty and solitariness, amidst infinite blue waters. Today when we think of ‘man-made’ islands we instantly think of the glitz of the Middle East, with audacious displays of wealth where even building your own paradise is possible. Yet this idea is by no means a new one. Artificial islands date back as far as the Aztec culture. The Aztec city of Tenochtitlan stood on a small natural island, but was surrounded by many artificial islands, which the Aztec people created to improve agriculture. Here we outline the man-made islands that are prominent today.
Islands in UAE
Palm Jumeriah, Deira Island and Palm Jebel Ali are located on the coast of Dubai. They are known collectively as the Palm Islands. They are constructed from sand dredged from the sea floor. The islands have harmed the area’s marine environment, so development companies have taken steps to reduce environmental effects by transporting fish and marine animals outside of the Palms’ breakwaters. Palm Jumeriah is a property development, Nahkeel’s flagship project and is one of the world’s largest man-made islands. As the island is designed in the shape of a palm, it has an outer breakwater and inner palm shape, so extensive land reclamation and dredging was required to build the sections. Construction of Palm Jumeriah is now complete, but the other two islands are still in construction.
Dubai also contains The World, a man-made island that is constructed in the rough shape of the world map. It’s in its early stages of development and came to a halt due to the 2008 financial crisis. Also, Bluewaters Island is set to become one of the world’s major tourism hot spots. It’s located off the coast of Jumeriah Beach Residence coastline and much of the residential and entertainment zones are still under construction, including a giant ferris wheel, which is poised to become the main attraction of Bluewaters Island.
The Pearl-Qatar was developed by United Development Company and planned by architecture and design firm, Callison. The design of the island is intended to resemble a chain of pearls. It’s a man-made island of almost 4 million square metres and it’s the first land in Qatar to be available for freehold ownership by foreign nationals. It boasts a huge luxurious residential complex, featuring many villas and hotels, along with commercial attractions and restaurants. The Pearl-Qatar is a popular tourist attraction that also boasts exclusive, luxury residential properties.
Islands of Uros, Peru
The Uros inhabitants live on floating islands that are made of reeds that grow along the edges of Lake Titicaca Puno. The roots are anchored with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. New reeds are added to the top constantly, as the reeds at the bottoms of the islands rot away very quickly. These reeds have been harvested for centuries from the water to build their homes and boats. The Uros are an ancient tribe and it’s believed that around the 13th century, they found themselves homeless on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Unable to find home on dry land, they built their home on water. Their unique way of life has become the subject of curiosity for people of the modern world, so now the islands of Uros have become a tourist attraction, as Puno fishermen offer tours to the island. The Uros tribe earns money from the tours, which allows them to further sustain their culture and way of life.
Spiral Island, Mexico
Spiral Island might be the least visually impressive man-made creation, but it gets top marks for being the most environmentally friendly. The island is constructed from plastic bottles and recyclable materials and was created by British artist and environmentalist Richart Sowi. It was originally built in 1998, located in a lagoon near Puerto Adventuras and Sowi used nets filled with plastic bottles to support a plywood and bamboo structure.
In 2005, a hurricane tore through the island but a replacement has been open for people to visit since 2008. The latest version is called Spiral Island II, or Joyxee Island and is located in the waters of Isla Mujeres, protected from harsh weather. It contains around 10,000 plastic bottles which volunteers helped to gather. This island doesn’t just contain a home. It offers beaches, ponds and a solar-powered waterfall.
Wellington Island, India
Named after Lord Wellington, a former British governor in India, this island was created to form part of the city of Kochi in the West Coast of India. Despite the island’s name, Sir Robert Bristow was the main engineer of this project and it was constructed with dredged soil from Vembanad Lake. The main structure was completed in 1939, just before the Second World War. The island was used as a military base by the Royal Airforce, with the Malabar Hotel being the centre for wartime staff. Today, it’s home to many luxury hotels and homes, and serves a link between the city and some other seaports. With its rich history, the island has become a landmark in Kochi city.
Even islands that are made by man rather than by nature can be incredible. There are many artificial islands dotted around the world’s sea, and with today’s design and engineering capabilities perhaps it is only our imagination which is a limiting what can be achieved.
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