The contenders for the world’s largest man made island are testament to human ambition. Constructing these islands is a mammoth task, demanding the deployment of advanced engineering techniques and resources on an unimaginable scale.
Yet, the biggest man made islands in the world are more than just exceptional examples of engineering. Each serves a distinct purpose, from residential and commercial use to tourism and even environmental conservation. They represent the response to an ever-growing global population and diminishing land resources, the insatiable desire for luxury and grandeur, and even efforts to protect and restore fragile ecosystems.
Let’s go on a global journey to discover the planet’s biggest man made island as well as the world’s most famous artificial island.
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates | Size: 1,413 acres
It may not be the largest artificial island in the world, but the Palm Jumeirah is arguably the most iconic. The palm tree-shaped island was built in six years at a reported cost of $12 billion. The construction used around 120 million cubic metres of sand and seven million tonnes of rocks from the Hajar Mountains, around 430 kilometres to the south. An eleven kilometre breakwater was built to protect the island from storms.
Some of the most famous faces from the world of business, music, sports and the arts own property on the island, and it’s also home to some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, shopping malls and restaurants.
Location: Kobe, Japan | Size: 1,433 acres
A perfect example of the confluence of human ingenuity, environmental planning, and urban development, Rokkō Island has been called ‘the garden city in the ocean.’ The rectangular-shaped island took almost twenty years to create between 1973 and 1992 and the industrial part of the island is separated from the residential area by a green belt. Access to the island is either by driverless tram or by road. In 2017, the population was a little over 19,000.
Chek Lap Kok
Location: Hong Kong, SAR China | Size: 3,083 acres
The 3,000+ acre island was the result of an assimilation of two smaller islands – Chek Lap Kok and Lam Chau – and one of the world’s most complex land reclamation projects. Today, the island is home to Hong Kong International Airport, the world’s busiest airport by cargo traffic and one of the world’s busiest passenger airports.
The name of one of the world’s largest man made islands is either from the emptiness of the island (da chek lak) or the fact that the island’s shape resembles that of the formerly abundant red tripletail perch, known as ‘chek lap.’
Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | Size: 6,177 acres
Home to Ferrari World, SeaWorld, Warner Bros. World and the Yas Marina Circuit, host of the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix, Yas Island ranks among the world’s most famous artificial islands. One of the world’s biggest and most impressive man made islands also boasts world-class hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, a championship links golf course, and a stunning white sandy beach.
Location: Flevoland, The Netherlands | Size: 239,672 acres
The largest man made island on Earth is Flevopolder, located in Flevoland, Netherlands. Its creation was a part of the vast Zuiderzee project, a series of land reclamation, drainage initiatives, and the construction of dams and dikes that spanned 67 years from 1919 to 1986. Flevopolder is entirely enclosed by the Gooimeer, Ketelmeer, and Veluwemeer lakes, confirming its status as an island.
This monumentally complex feat of engineering first called for the establishment of the Afsluitdijk dam in 1932, which effectively sealed off sections of the Zuiderzee sea inlet to form the freshwater IJssel Lake. Following the conclusion of World War II, efforts were resumed, leading to the formation of the eastern Flevopolder in 1957 and subsequently, the southern Flevopolder in 1968. Flevoland officially gained recognition as the 12th and most recent province of the Netherlands on 1st January 1986.
The world’s largest artificial island was named after the ancient Lake Flevo and is believed to have a population of around 400,000 people.