THe Case for Micronations and Artificial Islands

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In early centuries, artificial islands were built to create home sites easier to defend against wild animals or hostile tribes. There is evidence that Greek, Roman, and Scottish civilizations built hundreds of small islands for a variety of purposes. Excavations reveal that many islands were built by piling mud on layers of reed mats.

In recent times, new islands have been built to provide sites for airports and other urban infrastructure. For example, in Japan, boatloads of dirt and rock were hauled from a nearby mountain and dumped into a huge box in Osaka Bay to create an island site for the new Kansai international airport. Hong Kong spent nearly $15 billion to enlarge an existing island for its new airport and to accommodate bridges and transit lines to link it with the city. When growth occupied every available site in Singapore, the small island nation dredged new sites from the shallow waters around its main island.

In addition, there are many primitive villages in remote areas built on stilts over shallow water. I have noted these in the upper Amazon basin between Manaus, Brazil, and Iquitos, Peru, and around Bandar Seri Begawan in Borneo. One of the most interesting was a small village of textile workers in the middle of Inle Lake in northern Myanmar (Burma).

Without question, the most advanced artificial island projects today are found in Dubai. I was there during construction of the pioneering project, the now-famous Burj Al-Arab "sail" hotel built on a small artificial island. This was followed by development of the Palm Island group that went beyond all others in creative design and venture risk, raising the bar for all future island builders.

Perhaps the most intriguing projects are those proposed by creators of new micronations. …