Last updated on September 4th, 2017
Small country, big Land Reclamation
As one of the smallest and most densely populated nations in the world, Singapore is running out of space. Luckily for Singapore, it is an island. It could have been a landlocked small country, but instead it is surrounded by the sea.
So what to do? Singapore’s solution to its stifling population density has been to grow bigger by dumping sand and rocks into the waves. Land reclamation in Singapore dates back to the XIXth century. But the country has been running out of space only since Independence, due to its incredible economic success (from mosquito infested mangroves to first world riches).
Will Buy Sand, more Sand
Over the past fifty years, the island has grown from 582 to 710 square kilometres. By 2030, Singapore plans to add another 70 square kilometres, a 30% expansion seawards since the 1960s!
Marina Bay Casinos, Jurong Refineries and Changi Airport are the most visible infrastructures built on reclaimed land. It is estimated that it takes about 37 million cubic meters of sand to reclaim one square kilometre from the sea. Changi Airport, voted best in the World for several years and still expanding, required a whopping 52 milliong cubic meters of filling materials.
Sand from Thy Neighbours
Singapore has imported more sand than any country in the world to satisfy its building needs. Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia have been among its suppliers. The Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar have also willingly contributed part of their country to Singapore’s enlargement. But the environmental impacts of digging up the “spice” has led to official export restrictions from some these countries.
As sand supplies tighten, Singapore has switched to a Dutch style polder reclamation process (building walls to keep seawater out), which should decrease its appetite for its neighbours’ precious fine grains.