The 14 Coolest Artificial Islands On Earth

The world

Photo: Wikipedia

Will Rogers once quipped, “Buy land. They ain’t making more of the stuff.”While we may not be making any more land, we are moving it around pretty creatively.

Artificial islands abound—some are pretty low-tech, while others are wired digital utopia. 

Here are some of the most beautiful, bizarre, and creative artificial islands that human ingenuity has put together. 


The Maldives, a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean, is mostly a picturesque archipelago of sandy beaches and blue waves.

Thilafushi is the exact opposite. It's the world's largest island made primarily of garbage. Just a shallows in 1992, it's now home to all the trash from Malé and the numerous tourist resorts in the Maldives--growing about one square meter per day.

Like most of the Maldives, Thilafushi is only 1 meter over sea level. Rising sea levels means that this massive pile of waste could soon be under water.

150 Bangladeshi workers live there, sorting through the waste.

Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport opened in July 1998 on the artificial island of Chek Lap Kok.

The southern gateway to Mainland China took six years and $20 billion to build, increasing the land area of Hong Kong by 1 per cent.

As the third busiest airport in the world, the transportation hub carried more than 53 million passengers in 2011.

Kamfers Dam

Kamfers Dam in South Africa is one of only six places in the world where Lesser Flamingos breed.

The S-shaped island was constructed in 2006 as a refuge for the birds, which are attracted to the wetland's high concentration of blue-green algae.

Today the bird sanctuary is threatened by deteriorating water quality and flooding.

Kaze no To

The Kaze no To (Tower of Wind) often puzzles those who spot it from Odaiba or Umihotaru. It's a ventilation shaft for the Aqua line, a bit west of Umihotaru.

Peberholm Island

Peberholm is a bridge/tunnel combo not unlike Umihotaru. It is a part of the Øresund Bridge that connects Denmark to Sweden.

Unlike Umihotaru, the island is off limits to people apart from biologists. Since the busy traffic is safely cordoned off, Peberholm has become a home for numerous bird and plant species.

Nothing was initially planted there, it all came up naturally.

Spiral Island, Mexico

Uros Islands

When the Inca people expanded their territory and encroached upon the Uro people, the Uros were forced to build their own homeland on floating islands made of reeds in Peru's Lake Titicaca.

The reeds are gradually added to the top of the islands to compensate for the disintegrating bottoms.

The World in Dubai

Intended as an exclusive enclave for celebrities in 2003, this haven is reachable only by helicopter, sea plane or boat.

The credit crunch came at just the wrong time for the World. Construction had to stop, the islands are falling into disrepair and actually sinking. What's left is a massive shipping hazard and a monument to the Emirate's hubris -- just barely visible from the coast.

The project's website hasn't shown any updates in three years.

The Floating Island on the Mur

New York artist Vito Acconci designed this sea shell-shaped floating island in the middle of the Mur River in Graz, Austria. Inside, there is a cafe. The uncovered part supports a public amphitheater.

Harbor Island, Seattle

Built in 1909, Harbor Island was once the largest artificial island in the world.

The 395 acres was initially built from 24 million cubic yards of earth dredged from the Duwamish River.

The island is mainly an industrial and port area with train stations and some of Seattle's sports stadiums.


When Commodore Matthew Perry opened Japan to Western trade, he parked a few ships in Edo Bay and fired canons into Tokyo -- the most populous city on Earth -- even then.

To protect the city from further attacks, officials built a series of artificial islands in the bay to serve as batteries with canons to pound American ships.

The military past of the island is now long gone and Odaiba is a retreat today with: parks, a beach, an amusement park, malls, restaurants, a convention centre, television studios, and a fake Statue of Liberty.


Umihotaru, as seen from space, looks like the Aqua Line highway that stretches across Tokyo Bay just stops in the middle of the water. From there, the cars actually dive down into a tunnel that stretches towards Kawasaki.

The Aqua Line cuts the ride from Kanagawa to Chiba by over as much as two hours because it bypasses central Tokyo.

Drivers can park on Umihotaru Island (Umihotaru means 'sea-firefly') before descending into the deeps to enjoy the breeze, visit a restaurant, or play some video games.

Dubai Palm Jumeriah

Dubai has the biggest artificial island development in the world, the famous Palm Jumeriah.

This $12 billion construction project began in 2001 when Nakheel, the state-sponsored developers, put 94 million cubic meters of sand and 7 million tons of rock into the Persian Gulf.

The Palm's core includes a monorail and an 8 lane highway. Two fighter jets were stripped and sunk right off the artificial coast to create an artificial reef.

28 Dolphins have been flown in to populate the Island's Dolphin Bay.

Nakheel still struggles to assure people that the islands aren't sinking.

Amwaj Islands

Like the Palm Jumeriah, the Amwaj Islands in Bahrain are an exclusive retreat for the rich.

Construction was completed in 2006, totaling $1.5 billion.

The islands are the only place in the Kingdom where foreigners are allowed to own land.

They feature waterfront housing with boat docking.

Of course, if you can afford it, buying your own island is the way to go

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