Artificial island

An artificial island or man-made island is an island that has been constructed by people rather than formed by natural means. Artificial islands may vary in size from small islets reclaimed solely to support a single pillar of a building or structure, to those that support entire communities and cities. Early artificial islands included floating structures in still waters, or wooden or megalithic structures erected in shallow waters (e.g. crannógs and Nan Madol discussed below).

In modern times artificial islands are usually formed by land reclamation, but some are formed by the incidental isolation of an existing piece of land during canal construction (e.g. Donauinsel and Ko Kret), or flooding of valleys resulting in the tops of former knolls getting isolated by water (e.g. Barro Colorado Island). One of the world's largest artificial islands, René-Levasseur Island[1][2], was formed by the flooding of two adjacent reservoirs.

Satellite image of Flevopolder, Netherlands (5.48E 52.43N)
The Flevopolder in the Netherlands is 970 km2 and is the largest island formed by reclaimed land in the world.


Despite a popular image of modernity, artificial islands actually have a long history in many parts of the world, dating back to the reclaimed islands of Ancient Egyptian civilization, the Stilt crannogs of prehistoric Scotland and Ireland, the ceremonial centers of Nan Madol in Micronesia and the still extant floating islands of Lake Titicaca.[3] The city of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec predecessor of Mexico City that was home to 500,000 people when the Spaniards arrived, stood on a small natural island in Lake Texcoco that was surrounded by countless artificial chinamitl islands.

Reef Island off North Malaita.

The people of Langa Langa Lagoon and Lau Lagoon in Malaita, Solomon Islands built about 60 artificial islands on the reef including Funaafou, Sulufou and Adaege.[4][5] The people of Lau Lagoon build islands on the reef as these provided protection against attack from the people who lived in the centre of Malaita.[6][7] These islands were formed literally one rock at a time. A family would take their canoe out to the reef which protects the lagoon and then dive for rocks, bring them to the surface and then return to the selected site and drop the rocks into the water. Living on the reef was also healthier as the mosquitoes, which infested the coastal swamps, were not found on the reef islands. The Lau people continue to live on the reef islands.[4]

Many artificial islands have been built in urban harbors to provide either a site deliberately isolated from the city or just spare real estate otherwise unobtainable in a crowded metropolis. An example of the first case is Dejima (or Deshima), created in the bay of Nagasaki in Japan's Edo period as a contained center for European merchants. During the isolationist era, Dutch people were generally banned from Nagasaki and Japanese from Dejima. Similarly, Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay beside New York City, a former tiny islet greatly expanded by Land Reclamation, served as an isolated immigration center for the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, preventing an escape to the city of those refused entry for disease or other perceived flaws, who might otherwise be tempted toward illegal immigration. One of the most well-known artificial islands is the Île Notre-Dame in Montreal, built for Expo 67.

The Venetian Islands in Miami Beach, Florida, in Biscayne Bay added valuable new real estate during the Florida land boom of the 1920s. When the bubble that the developers were riding burst, the bay was left scarred with the remnants of their failed project. A boom town development company was building a sea wall for an island that was to be called Isola di Lolando but could not stay in business after the 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression, dooming the island-building project. The concrete pilings from the project still stand as another development boom roared around them, 80 years later.

Nagasaki bay siebold

Dejima, not allowed direct contact with nearby Nagasaki


1927 sea wall pilings from the failed Isola di Lolando construction project in Miami Beach, Florida

Our Lady of the Rocks

Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Škrpjela) in Montenegro

Largest artificial islands according to their size (reclaimed lands)

No. Name Size (km2) Location Year built Utilisation
1 Flevopolder
Flevoland, Netherlands 1968 Towns, agriculture
2 Yas Island
Abu Dhabi, UAE 2018 Yas Marina Circuit
3 Kansai International Airport
Osaka, Japan 1994 Airport
4 Hong Kong International Airport
Hong Kong 1998 Airport
5 Palm Jebel Ali
Dubai, UAE Unknown on hold
6 Chūbu Centrair International Airport
Tokoname, Japan 2005 Airport
7 Ogizima
Yokohama, Japan 1975 Factory
8 Palm Jumeirah[9]
Dubai, UAE 2002 Housing
9 Rokko Island
Kobe, Japan 1992 Housing
10 Fundão Island[10]
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1983 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
11 Port Island
Kobe, Japan 1981 Housing
12 Willingdon Island
Kochi, India 1936 Port, Naval Base

Modern projects


In 1969, the Flevopolder in the Netherlands was finished, as part of the Zuiderzee Works. It has a total land surface of 970 km2, which makes it by far the largest artificial island by land reclamation in the world. The island consists of two polders Eastern Flevoland and Southern Flevoland. Together with the Noordoostpolder, which includes some small former islands like Urk, the polders form Flevoland, the 12th province of the Netherlands that almost entirely consists of reclaimed land.


The Pearl-Qatar is in the north of the Qatari capital Doha, home to a range of residential, commercial and tourism activities. Qanat Quartier is designed to be a 'Virtual Venice in the Middle East'. Lusail & large areas around Ras Laffan, Hamad International Airport & Hamad Port.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is home to several artificial island projects. They include the Yas Island, augmentions to Saadiyat Island, Khalifa Port, Al Reem Island, Al Lulu Island, Al Raha Creek, al Hudairiyat Island, Palm Islands projects (Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, and Palm Deira); and The World, The Universe and the Dubai Waterfront. Of all these, only the Palm Jumeirah is complete and inhabited so far. Also, the Burj Al Arab is on its own artificial island.[11] The Universe, Palm Jebel Ali, Dubai Waterfront, and Palm Deira are on hold.


Subi Reef May 2015
Subi Reef being built by the PRC and transformed into an artificial island, May 2015

China has conducted a land reclamation project which had built at least seven artificial islands in the South China Sea totaling 2000 acres in size by mid 2015.[12] One artificial island built on Fiery Cross Reef near the Spratly Islands is now the site of a military barracks, lookout tower and a runway long enough to handle Chinese military aircraft.[13]


Kansai International Airport is the first airport to be built completely on an artificial island in 1994, followed by Chūbu Centrair International Airport in 2005, and both the New Kitakyushu Airport and Kobe Airport in 2006, and Ordu Giresun Airport in 2016. When Hong Kong International Airport opened in 1998, 75% of the property was created using land reclamation upon the existing islands of Chek Lap Kok and Lam Chau. Currently China is building several airports on artificial islands, they include runways of Shanghai international Airport Dalian Jinzhouwan International Airport being built on a 21 square kilometer artificial island, Xiamen Xiang'an International Airport, Sanya Hongtangwan International Airport[14] designed by Bentley Systems which is being built on a 28 square kilometer artificial islands.


Kansai closeup

A view of Kansai International Airport from space

Palm jumeirah core

A closer view of the Palm Jumeirah

Northstar Offshore Island Beaufort Sea

Northstar Island, an artificial island for oil drilling in the Beaufort Sea

Controversial side effect

To prepare the artificial island, a large amount of sand is required. This preparation of sand may cause environmental pollution. For example, Singapore dredged five hundred million tons of sand to prepare an artificial island. This sand removal caused desertification to a fishing town, having a bad effect on the ecosystem.[15]

Political status

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea treaty (UNCLOS), artificial islands are not considered harbor works (Article 11) and are under the jurisdiction of the nearest coastal state if within 200 nautical miles (370 km) (Article 56).[16] Artificial islands are not considered islands for purposes of having their own territorial waters or exclusive economic zones, and only the coastal state may authorize their construction (Article 60);[17] however, on the high seas beyond national jurisdiction, any "state" may construct artificial islands (Article 87).

See also


  1. ^ "René-Levasseur: The World's Second Largest Island in a Lake?". GeoCurrents. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  2. ^ "ESA satellite images Manicouagan Crater". UPI. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  3. ^ "The Story of Ancient Egypt". Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  4. ^ a b Stanley, David (1999). South Pacific Handbook. Moon South Pacific. p. 895.
  5. ^ "Historical Photographs of Malaita". University of Queensland. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  6. ^ Akimichi, Tomoya (2009). "Sea Tenure and Its Transformation in the Lau of North Malaita, Solomon Island" (PDF). South Pacific Study Vol. 12, No. 1, 1991. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 May 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  7. ^ Akimichi, Tomoya (1992). The ecological aspect of Lau (Solomon Islands) ethnoichthyology. 87 (4) Journal of the Polynesian Society. pp. 301–326.
  8. ^ "関西空港の概要" (PDF). 国土交通省. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  9. ^ a b "Presenting Properties in Excess of Five Million Dirhams by LUXHABITAT | Luxury homes and properties in UAE" (in Spanish). Luxhabitat. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  10. ^ "" (in Portuguese). O Globo. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "China proceeds with building artificial islands on reefs claimed by Philippines". the Guardian. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  13. ^ Jim Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent (20 May 2015). "Exclusive: China warns U.S. spy plane". CNN. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  14. ^ "Sanya New Airport Reclamation Project Wins "Be Inspired" Special Recognition Award for 2017 - Tropical Hainan". Tropical Hainan. 2017-10-17. Retrieved 2017-12-13.
  15. ^ 연합뉴스. "지구촌 곳곳서 인공섬 조성 붐…갈등·오염 등 부작용 속출". Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  16. ^ "UNCLOS and Agreement on Part XI - Preamble and frame index". Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  17. ^ "Article 60. Artificial islands, installations and structures in the exclusive economic zone (PREAMBLE TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA)". United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Retrieved 17 March 2017.

External links


Adagege is an artificial island built on the reef in the Lau Lagoon on Malaita in the Solomon Islands; it is located in Malaita Province. The road from Auki ends at Fouia wharf opposite the islands of Sulufou and Adaege in the Lau Lagoon.

Berezan Island

Berezan (Cyrillic: Береза́нь; Ancient Greek: Borysthenes; former Turkish: Pirezin) is an island in the Black Sea at the entrance of the Dnieper-Bug Estuary, Ochakiv Raion, Mykolaiv Oblast, Ukraine. It is often being confused with the artificial island of Pervomaisky that is located within Dnieper-Bug Estuary. The Berezan island measures approximately 900 metres in length by 320 metres in width. It is separated from the mainland (to which it may have been connected long ago) by about a mile and a half of shallow water.

Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab (Arabic: برج العرب‎, Tower of the Arabs) is a luxury hotel located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Of the tallest hotels in the world, it is the fifth tallest, although 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space. Burj Al Arab stands on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah Beach and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to resemble the sail of a ship. It has a helipad near the roof at a height of 210 m (689 ft) above ground.

Chubu Centrair International Airport

Chubu Centrair International Airport (中部国際空港, Chūbu Kokusai Kūkō) (IATA: NGO, ICAO: RJGG) is an international airport on an artificial island in Ise Bay, Tokoname City in Aichi Prefecture, 35 km (22 mi) south of Nagoya in central Japan.Centrair is classified as a first class airport and is the main international gateway for the Chubu ("central") region of Japan. The name "Centrair" (セントレア, Sentorea) is an abbreviation of Central Japan International Airport, an alternate translation used in the English name of the airport's operating company, Central Japan International Airport Co., Ltd. (中部国際空港株式会社, Chūbu Kokusai Kūkō Kabushiki-gaisha). 10.2 million people used the airport in 2015, ranking 8th busiest in the nation, and 208,000 tons of cargo was moved in 2015.

Dalian Jinzhouwan International Airport

Dalian Jinzhouwan International Airport is an airport being built to serve the city of Dalian in Liaoning Province, northeast China. Once open it will replace the existing Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport as the city's main airport. It is being built on 21 square kilometres (8.1 sq mi) of reclaimed land off the coast of Dalian. Expected to open sometime in 2019 or later, it is set to become the world's largest offshore airport.

Diyawanna Lake

Diyawanna Lake (Sinhalese: දියවන්නා ඔය, Tamil: தியவன்ன ஓயா) or Parliament Lake, is one of the lakes within Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, Sri Lanka.

It is quite popular as the Sri Lankan Parliament Building was built on an artificial island at the center of the lake. The Diyatha Uyana park is also located on the banks of this lake.


Funaafou or Funa'afou is an artificial island built on the reef in the Lau Lagoon off the northeast coast of Malaita Island. Administratively, it is in the Malaita Province of the Solomon Islands. Funa'afou island, which is near the edge of the Makwanu Passage, has about 200 inhabitants. It is the first artificial Island built in the Lau lagoon. According to history, the people of Baleo tribe are the first descendants of Funafou Islands

Harbor Island, Seattle

Harbor Island is an artificial island in the mouth of Seattle, Washington's Duwamish River where it empties into Elliott Bay. Built by the Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Company, Harbor Island was completed in 1909 and was then the largest artificial island in the world, at 350 acres (1.4 km²). Since 1912, the island has been used for commercial and industrial activities, including secondary lead smelting, shipbuilding and repair, bulk petroleum storage, metal fabrication, and containerized cargo shipping. Warehouses, laboratories, and other buildings are located on the island.

Harbor Island was made from 24 million yd³ (18 million m³) of earth removed in the Jackson and Dearborn Street regrades and dredged from the bed of the Duwamish River.

Harbor Island lost its title as the world's largest artificial island in 1938 with the completion of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, at 395 acres (1.60 km²). It regained the title in 1967, at which time its area had increased to nearly 397 acres (1.61 km²), but has been far surpassed in area since; as of 2004 Rokko Island in Kobe harbor in Japan is over 3.5 times larger. The official land area as reported by the United States Census Bureau was 406.91 acres (164.67 ha), at the 2000 census. There was also a permanent population of three persons reported on the island at that time.

The West Seattle Bridge passes over the island, as does the newer Spokane Street Bridge, a swing bridge across the West Waterway. The East Waterway is crossed by a causeway supported a few feet above high tide by pilings.

Vigor Industrial operates a 27-acre (10.9 ha) shipyard on the island, which is also home to some of the Port of Seattle's terminals and the publishing branch of The Mountaineers (Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, among others).

Hoffman Island

Hoffman Island is an 11-acre (4.5 ha) artificial island in the Lower New York Bay, off the South Beach of Staten Island, New York City. Another, smaller (4 acres (1.6 ha)) artificial island, Swinburne Island, lies immediately to the south. Created in 1873 upon the Orchard Shoal by the addition of landfill, the island is named for former New York City mayor (1866–1868) and New York Governor (1869–1871) John Thompson Hoffman.During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Hoffman (and Swinburne) Island was used as a quarantine station, housing immigrants who, upon their arrival at the immigrant inspection station at nearby Ellis Island, presented with symptoms of contagious disease(s).

Japanese Garden, Singapore

Japanese Garden (Chinese: 星和园; Malay: Taman Jepun), is a park located in Jurong East, Singapore. Built in 1974 by JTC Corporation, it covers 13.5 hectares (135,000 m2) of land.It is built on an artificial island in Jurong Lake and is connected to the adjacent Chinese Garden island by bridge named the Bridge of Double Beauty. Along with the aforementioned Chinese Garden, the two gardens are collectively known as the Jurong Gardens.

Kansai International Airport

Kansai International Airport (関西国際空港, Kansai Kokusai Kūkō, colloquially known as Kankū (関空)) (IATA: KIX, ICAO: RJBB) is an international airport located on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay off the Honshu shore, 38 km (24 mi) southwest of Ōsaka Station, located within three municipalities, including Izumisano (north), Sennan (south), and Tajiri (central), in Osaka Prefecture, Japan.

Kansai opened 4 September 1994 to relieve overcrowding at Osaka International Airport, which is closer to the city of Osaka and now handles only domestic flights. It consists of two terminals: Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Terminal 1, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is the longest airport terminal in the world with a length of 1.7 km (1.1 mi). The airport serves as an international hub for All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and Nippon Cargo Airlines, and also serves as a hub for Peach, the first international low-cost carrier in Japan.

In 2016, 25.2 million passengers used the airport making it the 30th busiest airport in Asia and 3rd busiest in Japan. Freight volume was at 802,162 tonnes total, of which 757,414 t were international (18th in the world), and 44,748 t were domestic. The 4,000 m × 60 m (13,123 ft × 197 ft) second runway was opened on 2 August 2007. As of June 2014, Kansai Airport has become an Asian hub, with 780 weekly flights to Asia and Australasia (including freight 119), 59 weekly flights to Europe and the Middle East (freight 5), and 80 weekly flights to North America (freight 42).

Kitakyushu Airport

Kitakyushu Airport (北九州空港, Kitakyūshū-kūkō) (IATA: KKJ, ICAO: RJFR), sometimes called Kokuraminami Airport, is an airport in Kokuraminami-ku, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Japan. It is built on an artificial island in the western Seto Inland Sea, 3 km (1.9 mi) away from the main body of the city. It opened on March 16, 2006, as New Kitakyushu Airport (新北九州空港, Shin-kitakyūshū-kūkō) but was renamed in 2008. It is designated a second class airport, and it has some international charter flights.

It is the fourth airport in Japan to begin operating 24 hours a day, after New Chitose Airport (Sapporo), Kansai International Airport (Osaka), and Chūbu Centrair International Airport (Nagoya).

Kobe Airport

Kobe Airport (神戸空港, Kōbe Kūkō) (IATA: UKB, ICAO: RJBE) is an airport on an artificial island just off the coast of Kobe, 8 km (5.0 mi) south of Sannomiya Station Japan. It primarily handles domestic flights, but can also accommodate international charter flights. In the first year of operation (2006) the airport handled 2,697,000 passengers with an average load factor of 61.1%. In 2017 it handled 3,071,974 passengers with an average load factor of 79.4%.

Macau International Airport

Macau International Airport (IATA: MFM, ICAO: VMMC) (Portuguese: Aeroporto Internacional de Macau) is an international airport in the special administrative region of Macau, situated at the eastern end of Taipa island and neighbouring waters which opened for commercial operations on 9 November 1995, during Portuguese administration of the region.

Since then the airport has been a common transfer point for people traveling between the Mainland and Taiwan, as well as a passenger hub for destinations in mainland China and Southeast Asia. During 2006, the airport handled 5 million passengers and 220,000 tonnes of cargo. In 2017 the number of passengers had increased to 7,165,803 which is more than the 6 million passengers per year the terminal was designed for.

Nagasaki Airport

Nagasaki Airport (長崎空港, Nagasaki Kūkō) (IATA: NGS, ICAO: RJFU) is an international airport located 4 km (2.5 mi) west of the railway station in the city of Ōmura and 18 km (11 mi) north northeast of the Nagasaki railway station in the city of Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan.

The airport terminal and runway 14/32 are on an island, and the shorter runway 18/36 (now used by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force for helicopter flights) is on the mainland.

Ordu–Giresun Airport

Ordu–Giresun Airport (IATA: OGU, ICAO: LTCB) (Turkish: Ordu-Giresun Havalimanı) is an airport on an artificial island just off the coast of Gülyalı, a town in Ordu Province, Turkey and Piraziz, a town in Giresun Province, Turkey. It is located 19 km (12 mi) away from Ordu and 25 km (16 mi) from Giresun city centres. It is the third artificial island airport in the world.

Sanya Hongtangwan International Airport

Sanya Hongtangwan International Airport is an airport being built to serve the city of Sanya in Hainan Province, China. It will be located on an artificial island in Hongtang Bay, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Sanya. Construction began in 2017, and the airport is expected to be opened in 2020.It will be China's first sea airport. 29.95 Km2 sea airport used, 23.99 km2 land area, 4 runways, 3 terminal building and corresponding supporting auxiliary area. Reclamation is projected to be completed in 2018.


Sulufou is an artificial island built on the reef in the Lau Lagoon on Malaita in the Solomon Islands; it is located in Malaita Province. The road from Auki ends at Fouia wharf opposite the islands of Sulufou and Adaege in the Lau Lagoon.

Willingdon Island

Willingdon Island is the largest artificial island in India, which forms part of the city of Kochi, in the state of Kerala. Much of the present Willingdon Island was claimed from the Lake of Kochi, filling in dredged soil around a previously existing, but tiny, natural island. Willingdon Island is significant as the home for the Port of Kochi, as well as the Kochi Naval Base (the Southern Naval Command) of the Indian Navy, Plant Quarantine station, Custom House Cochin and Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, a constituent unit of Indian Council of Agricultural Research.

The island is also home for other establishments associated with the port, namely, the Office of the Cochin Port Trust (that controls the Port of Kochi), the Customs Office, and more than two dozen export-import offices, warehouses, a few hotels and business centers.

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