During a half-century of independence, Singapore has fought to expand its territory, inch by hard-won inch. On the tip of the Malaysian peninsula, the island city-state piled up sand to expand its coastline and reclaim land from the sea.

In that time, Singapore has grown by one-quarter, adding landmass more than twice the size of Manhattan. At 284 square miles, Singapore is now approaching the size of all five boroughs of New York City. It plans to grow an additional 4% by 2030. It’s a striking accomplishment, given that many other coasts are receding because of rising sea levels, a result of climate change.

"We are not planning to lose any inch of land permanently,” says Ho Chai Teck, a deputy director at PUB, the government agency coordinating the effort to save the nation’s shores. "Singapore will build a continuous line of defense along our entire coast. This is something that we take very seriously.”