Indonesia has so many islands it doesn’t know what to do with them all. So it’s letting foreign investors get involved in naming and managing some of them.
Discussing the plan this week, Luhut Pandjaitan, a maritime affairs minister, stressed that while Indonesia will retain ownership, foreign investors keen on a qualifying island can lease it and “give it any name they want, as long as they report to us.” Presumably that means you could name it after yourself, or after a loved one, if you so desired.
“If the island is for tourists, it’s fine, as long as there are plans and regulations,” Pandjaitan said.
He noted that Indonesia still has thousands of islands that are neither managed nor named.
While Indonesia has long faced the challenge of naming and registering all its remote islands, China’s aggression in the South China Sea—including building militarized islands atop reefs—has no doubt added a sense of urgency to the task.
As of 2012 Indonesia had registered nearly 13,500 islands with the United Nations. Authorities also announced this week that the number will reach as high as 14,752 by August. But that still leaves thousands without a name. The CIA puts the number of islands in Indonesia at 17,508, with about 6,000 of them inhabited. One of the higher estimates, from a 2002 survey by Indonesia’s aeronautics and space institute, suggested the nation has over 18,300 islands.
By way of example Pandjaitan said Indonesia will allow Japanese investors to manage the island of Morotai, part of eastern Indonesia’s Maluku chain. The plan is to make the island a destination for elderly Japanese. He mentioned Singapore as another source of interested parties.