Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top 10 Strange Islands Around The World

Islands are unique forms of land as they give amazing views and are rich in natural beauty. Some stand just a few meters away from coast while others stand in the midst of oceans far away from the main land. Most of the time the islands are bestowed with magnificent views of nature while at times it gains our attention due to something out of the ordinary; here is a list of islands that have attributes other than natural beauty and picturesque scenery that got our attention.

10: Palm Islands, Dubai

10. Palm Islands, Dubai

DubaiThe Palm Jumeirah is an artificial mad-made island off the coast of Jumeirah beach, Dubai. It should not come as a shock since Dubai homes other marvels such as an indoor ski resort and a 160 story skyscraper. But this engineering feat pulled within the city is something that put Dubai on the map. The island is 31 square kilometer in area with sixteen 1 kilometer fronts that are surrounded by a 11 km long circular barrier. It measure 5 km from the tip to the mainland [source: The Daily Mail]. The Palm is the brainchild of Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Makhtoum and the construction was carried out by Nakheel. They used around 92 million cubic meters of sand that they dredged from sea floor and boulder excavated from nearby mountain range. Surprisingly the Palm Jumeirah is not the only project in Dubai, artificial islands that is. Palm Jebel Ali, Palm Deira and “The World” are on their way to make a mark. However the 2008 financial crisis dealt a strong blow to these projects putting their future in doubt.

9: La Isla de las Munecas (The Island of the Dolls), Mexico

9. La Isla de las Munecas (The Island of the Dolls), Mexico

Dolls hang from the trees, dolls that are wrapped with spider webs and at times with insects crawling in and out of the empty eye sockets. It may seem more like a scene from a Hollywood horror movie but that is not the case. You can see such dolls and a relatively horrific outlook once you reach the La Isla de las Munecas, the island of the dolls. Now the legend behind this island is just as disturbing as the scene enunciated above. The island lies just outside of Mexico City, where a broken man who after the tragic death of his family came to live in the canals of Xochimilco. His name was Don Julian. It is said that one day Julian heard a woman screaming as if she was drowning in a nearby canal. Julian rushed to save her life, like a hero he jumped in and pulled her out. But sadly she died soon. After that Julian started to hear the girl’s screams on nightly basis and in an unsuccessful attempt to make the spirit of the girl go away he started to hang dolls from the trees. The number grew as he kept hearing screams night over night. With time his legend grew and people come to give him dolls that he then used to hang by the tress. In 2005 Julian dies at 86 years of age but his dolls still hang by the trees, numbering up to thousands.

8: Socotra Island, Yemen

8. Socotra Island, Yemen

If you have seen the movie”the Mysterious Island” then you can probably relate to this island. The island is located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Yemen and Somalia. It is filled with breathtaking views, a mountain range (Haghier Mountains) reaching heights up to 1,525 meters and has arid lands. But the feature that gives it distinction are the flora and fauna that find their home on that island. Among the 300 plants, 24 reptiles and six birds that are unique to Socotra, is the dragon’s blood tree, an odd plant that is named for its bright red sap [source: SCDP].  From this tree’s thick central trunk, sturdy, gnarled branches fan out in a round umbrella shape and are topped with palm-like leaves. Another peculiar part of the island’s flora is the Socotran desert rose, a beige plant with pink flowers that’s best described as a giant rutabaga-like tree. The only drawback is the hostility of that region. The adjoining regions of the island are unstable otherwise the island would have been one of the most desired destinations for eco-tourists.

7: Fort Boyard, France

7. Fort Boyard, France 

The island is home to Fort Boyard, a structure that kind of looks like a bath tub. Located just off the coast of France towards the west, the island lies midway between the islands of Oleron and Aix. What started off as a military buildup in the 1660’s when Louis XIV was ruling, the lead engineer suggested the king not to go ahead with the project. Work began on it under the order of Napoleon in 1804. It was never an easy task but the workers started off by dumping 75,000 cubic meters of rock onto the sandy floor. British attack hampered construction in 1809 and it was not started again till the next 30 years. It was completed in 1857 and the resulting oval-shaped island fortress measured 32 meters wide and 20 meters high and could support 250 soldiers and 74 guns. Since the structured was originally designed keeping in view the technology of guns of the time, it was started so naturally 200 years later the structure served no purpose. It has been used as a military prison, movie,TV backdrop and currently being used shooting of a French game show”Fort Boyard”.

6: The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

6. The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

Technically speaking, these are not islands but large mats. The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca are one of the strangest tourist attractions. The reason behind this entire ordeal is the inhabitants; Uros. According to anthropologists, in pre-columbian times the Uros migrated from the Amazon and shifted to a region that is today Peru. As the Uros did not find land for themselves, they decided to make their own. The Uros live on large mats made of buoyant totora reeds reaching sizes upt to half a football field and 8 to 12 feet in depth tethered together as well as to the bottom of the lake. Originally they made their mats 9 miles into the lake but due to storms they were forced to move near to the coast. They were mostly fishermen but it is difficult to make living out of it because of the economic activity on the shore of the lake. Now they make their living by charging and selling things to the 200,000 visitor who come there every year.

5: Madagascar

5. Madagascar

Madagascar is not only the fourth largest island on planet earth but also on the most beautiful place on earth. Originally belonging to Africa, it was separated from it some 15 million years ago. Ever since the flora and fauna has evolved differently in comparison to the main land. The island is home to the most fascinating trees of which the baobab is top of the list. It’s a carrot-shaped tree with a thick trunk and high branches that can grow up to 24 meters tall. Lemurs, another interesting element found only on the island and the nearby islands also hold interest for the tourists. Since the country is originally poor and the 2009 coupe was like the last nail in the coffin as things seemed to get worse. Poaching of Madagascar’s wildlife and illicit harvesting of its trees is a common practice that the environmentalist hope to stop as it is destroying the island.

4: Alcatraz Island, United States

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz is without doubt the most famous Island of America. A small rocky outpost in the midst of San Francisco Bay, California, the island has been used as a defense post by the military as well as a prison. Lt. Juan Manuel de Ayala was the first person to map it back in 1775 and named it “Isla de los Alcatraces”(Island of Pelicans) because of the seabirds that live there. U.S Army constructed a post there in 1853 from protection purposes and later transferred it to Federal Bureau of Prisons which converted the fortress into one of the most legendary prison.  Al Capone, Alvin Karpis, “Machine Gun” Kelly, Basil “The Owl” Banghart and Mickey Cohen were housed here before closing its doors in 1963. But the main reason for it being famous was because of the occupation of the island by American Indians from 1969 to 1971.

3: Hashima Island, Japan

3. Hashima Island, Japan

Located 9 miles southwest of Nagasaki, the island has a prolific history. The island is densely populated and had vital importance in the energy sector due to the presence of coal in the seabed beneath the island. Once the Japanese discovered coal, the Fukahori family installed the frist mineshaft on the island in 1887 and then sold it to Mitsubhi company. The company however had different plans as they expanded the operations and ended up enlarging the island from original size to 15.6 acres and then enclosed it with walls. Mitsubhishi made housing apartments for the workers. During WWII, Chinese and South Koreans were forced to work at the mines due to increase in demand. The population peaked in 195 by 5,259 persons per acre and that demanded for certain facilities. These included, a primary school, junior high school, playground, gymnasium, pinball parlor, movie theater, bars, restaurants, 25 different retail shops, hospital, hairdresser, Buddhist temple, Shinto shrine and even a brothel. The mine was ultimately closed in 1974 due to change in primary source of energy to petroleum.

2: Poveglia Island, Italy


The history of Poveglia Island is full of horrors. The island is said to be inhabited the first time back in 421 by people who were trying to flee invaders. In 1348 a bubonic plague hit Venice. Since the island is located in the South Lagoon between the cities of Venice and Lido, the Poveglia Island (they were abandoned by people by then) were used to quarantine the dead and dying victims of disease, many of whom were then burnt on the island. In 1630 Black Death sickened many hat eventually fell victim to the same fate on the island. Napoleon used the island to stash gun powder and weapons in 19th century. In the late 1800’s the island became asylum for mentally ill. It is said that the doctors of the hospital use to perform experiment and that drove one patient to a point where he actually jumped off form the institution’s bell tower. People still hear the scream and rings of the bell even though the bell as removed long time ago.

1: Easter Island

1. Easter Island

How the inhabitants of the Easter Island did carve giant stone statues when the tools available to them were mere stones, bones and coral? The question still raises eyebrows to this day. The statues on the island are believed to be called as “moai” and the base as “ahu”. They average 13 feet (4 meters) in height and weigh in at a whopping 14 tons (12,700 kilograms), and were carved from rock quarried from a volcanic crater on the island’s eastern end, known as Rano Raraku. All together, there are 887 moai on Easter Island. Of those, 397 remain in Rano Raraku, and 92 lie in transit outside the quarry. Numerous methods have been suggested to explain how the early inhabitants moved these stone monuments — sleds, rolling logs, and even extraterrestrials — but the exact technique is still unknown.


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