Archive for the 'Asia' Category

More on Islands on Islands on Islands

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Boing Boing is having another discussion of triple islands — islands on an island on an island.

They restate Volcan Point’s claim inaccurately; it is not the largest (as I’ve noted), but is the largest — and only — volcanic triple. We should also note that Taal is regularly active, and will destroy this whole geographic construction some day, possibly soon.

My (very) small claim to fame in this regard is that I have probably been to more triple islands than anyone, on Glover Island, the large island in Grand Lake, Newfoundland. I carried an inflatable boat with which to explore the islands on it, and camped on one of the 17 or so in that lake. (I’ve never heard of another person actually sleeping on an island on an island on an island; the one in the Philippines is unsuitable, and the other Canadian ones are even more isolated.)

People like to say that Ryan Island on Isle Royale is the “largest island on the largest lake on the largest island on the largest lake in the world.” With all those qualifiers, this statement seems to be true.

The World’s Most Densely Populated Island

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

A nod from the New York Times travel blog yesterday: it noted my designation of Hong Kong’s Ap Lei Chau (Aberdeen Island) as the world’s most densely populated island.

That record has so far held, but, given that Ap Lei Chau includes some undeveloped hills, an island more heavily covered with highrises could surpass this island’s population density.

(Image courtesey Dave Berezansky)

Eight Disappearing Islands?

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Maldives from spaceThe website Treehugger recently suggested eight places — low-lying islands, more specifically — that will “soon” be uninhabitable due to climate change.

They are:

  • the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean
  • Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Carteret Islands (off PNG), and Majuro Atoll (Marshall Islands) in the Pacific
  • Lamu and Pate, Kenyan coastal islands
  • Bhola, in southern Bangladesh
  • Key West, off southern Florida

“Soon” is a relative term here–many of these places would still be inhabitable for decades, under current sea-level rise forecasts.

The Pacific islands involve relatively small numbers of people; they could actually be moved, though this would involve irreparable cultural destruction. Bangladesh illustrates another level of impact: millions of people live on these low-lying islands, and tens of millions in vulnerable coastal areas.

This is of course a tiny part of the problem; hundreds of thousands of islands are in danger of disappearing or greatly shrinking in the face of sea-level rise.

(Thanks to Stu Gagnon for the tip.)

Image: Maldives from space, courtesy NASA

A quake-formed island in China

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

A footnote to the story of the quake-formed lake in China: after the May 12th landslide, the lake that dammed up behind it cut off a hillock and made it into an island.

See this picture from the LA Times.

The island will likely disappear shortly, as the lake is drained to prevent disaster.

Island feng shui: dragons celebrating a pearl

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

Writing in The Star (Malaysia), Yip Yoke Teng describes a trip by the Mastery Academy of Chinese Metaphysics to study the feng shui of Tibet.

They visit Namucuo (commonly known as Nam Co or Nam Tsho, a high salt lake.

Teng writes:

It was evident that all mountain ranges converged on the lake, and there was an island emerging from the centre of the lake. Together, they formed “The Dragon Celebrating Pearl Formation” that facilitated Tibet’s spirituality.

Incidentally, Teng (and other sources) refer to Nam Co as “highest lake on earth,” but there are other, higher lakes, including Orba Co, the site of the highest islands in the world.

Hashima: once the world’s most densely populated island

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Google Sightseeing notes an interesting island off western Kyushu, Japan.

Hashima is small (6 hectare / 15 acres), and was owned by a coal mining company, which housed the miners on the island. Writes Google Sightseeing:

When space for the workers began to run out, they built Japan’s first large scale reinforced concrete apartment block on the island in 1916. More concrete tower blocks followed, and by 1959 the population of Hashima reached its peak of 5,259 — an astonishing 1,391 people per 10,000 square metres within the residential district — which is said to be the highest population density ever recorded in the world.

That would indeed be the most densely populated island known: 227,000 people per square mile, or 88,000 per sq km, surpassing the current record holder, Ap Lei Chau, which houses 160,000 per sq mi / 60,000 per sq km. This is all the more impressive given that Hashima was not connected to mainland Japan by bridge.

The island is now evidently deserted.

More on disappearing Indian islands

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

The New York Times adds to reports of the disappearance of islands in the Sundarbans of Bengal, “among the world’s largest collection of river delta islands.”

Inhabited islands are eroding away, as the Ganges Delta shifts, possibly abetted by sea level rise.

Mergui Archipelago, Burma — some data

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

A readers asks about Burmese geography:
Mergui Archipelago

Do you know the land area of the Mergui/Myeik archipelago, off the coast of Myanmar? Land area must include land, lakes, rivers etc., but not seawater. Websites give figures which seem too big, like 36,000 sq km., and probably is not strictly land area, but includes the surrounding sea.

I would estimate the total land area at about 3,100 square km or 1,200 square miles.

Geographical reference sources count 800-900 islands in the archipelago, but the largest (Kadan Kyun) is only 450 sq km / 174 sq miles. There are only about 28 with areas as large as 16 sq km / 6 sq miles, and these 28 have a total area of 2,700 sq km / 1,050 sq miles.

Some caveats: the exact boundaries of the group are unclear, as is the nature of some low, mangrovy islands on the landward side of the group.

Ancient Tuvan fortress island

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Tuva Online recently covered a very rare thing: a Siberian lake island with an ancient fortress.

Near Mongolia but on the Russian side of the border, the ruined Uigur fortress is called Por-Bazhyn, and is on an island in Lake Tere-Khol. The rectangular fortress is visible in satellite photos.

Disappearing Indian islands

Sunday, December 24th, 2006

An inhabited island in the Sundarban region of India have disappeared, and their submergence is being blamed by some on global warming-induced sea level rise.

The Independent (UK) reports the disappearance of Lohachara as the first sinking of an inhabited island caused by climate change, and suggests that 12 islands with a population 70,000 are in danger.

While the danger of rising seas appears real, islands disappear (and appear) in this deltaic region on the Bay of Bengal all the time, and it might be hard to pin this particular instance on the small sea level rise that has occurred so far.  Indeed, Lohachara might be a char — the Bangladeshi name for the notoriously shifting and often temporary river deposits that land pressure forces desperate people in the region to live on.