University of Basel

There Is No More Land, There Is Only SandMilica Topalović

The process of Singapore’s transformation from a backwater colonial port, predominantly rural, to the new nation of industrial middle class housed in public high rises, was dubbed a “territorial revolution” with many layers: the social, political, and economic dimensions of the national territory have been sculpted by the hand of the state, using topography as the main medium. Singapore also shows that construction of urban land usually does not come without a (vast) hinterland. The city-state is known as the world’s largest importer of sand for construction, as is located at the center of the sand-trade region whose radius extends to South China, Cambodia, and Myanmar. With nearly a quarter of its land area, around 140 square Kilometers, added over the years, it has been estimated that three-quarters of this is “built on foreign soil”.