3Japan Builds a Better Island
Back in the '60s, the people of Osaka Prefecture in Japan were getting a bit pissed that nearby Tokyo was taking all of their business. They wanted to expand their existing airport to encourage more trade, but it was surrounded by buildings and the demolition firm of Godzilla, Godzilla and Mecha Godzilla was booked full.
Plus, the locals were annoyed at all the noise it was creating already. So they figured they would just build it in Kobe. Aaaand Kobe promptly told them to get fucked (Kobe's working through some issues right now).
So they decided to simply build an entire island in Osaka Bay, and put it on that. Because you know what they say: If at first you don't succeed... just play God.
Construction started in 1987 and work was finished in 1990. It took 10,000 people, 80 ships, three mountains and presumably Ultra-Man to build the 98-foot tall island from the sea floor, along with a sea wall of over 48,000 tetrahedral concrete blocks. They also built a three kilometer long highway out into Osaka Bay so that people could actually access the island. In the end, Japan managed to hand-build not only their most successful and busiest airport, but also a man-made construct visible from space (suck it, Great Wall).
And the island stands up pretty well to its natural counterparts, too. Unlike regular islands, this one was specifically designed to withstand earthquakes. In case you didn't know, Japan sits in what scientists like to refer to as a "tectonic clusterfuck," meaning it is a volcanic hell hole wracked with earthquakes and tsunamis (and soul-scarring pornography, but that's probably unrelated). While in some cases, Japan has not taken all the measures necessary to prevent catastrophes resulting from quakes, this is one case where they got it right, in spades.
In 1995, the Kobe earthquake hit and the devastation was extreme, however, the nearby Kansai Airport and its island were so well manufactured that not even a single pane of glass was broken in the quake that killed over 6,000 on the mainland. Which is seriously impressive and all, but man... Kobe's been having a rough time of it lately. The rest of Japan should take it out to a titty bar or something; take it's mind off of things.
2Dubai Controls the Weather
Dubai is in a crazy footrace against Japan for the title of Craziest Tiny Nation on Earth (the prize is "more crazy,") but in this case, we aren't talking about any crazy buildings, or more crazy buildings, but the weather.
But let's not forget, Dubai has some crazy-ass buildings.
In Dubai, as in other parts of the Middle East, it is very dry. This is what scientists call a "desert" and they also note that it is dry because "there is not much rain." But rather than merely accepting defeat by the natural cycles of Earth and either adapting to their environment or just moving somewhere else, Dubai decided that even the weather was something that money could be thrown at if you didn't like it. The technique they used is called cloud seeding and it's a process where either silver iodide or dry ice are dispersed into the air by airplane or rocket which then provokes rainfall.
Shoot nature in the face; she bleeds rain.
This only works if the water in the rain clouds is super-cooled, of course. As long time Cracked readers might recall, supercooled water is water that is below freezing, but still liquid, and needs a "seed" to form crystals. This principle is not only useful for mildly impressing inter-nerds, but also makes heavily laden clouds release that precious precipitation. In Dubai, they flew over the counter-intuitively super-cooled desert rainclouds and dumped dry ice into the sky. Sure enough, they got their rain--possibly at the expense of the wrath of a spurned Earth goddess, but it was rain nonetheless.
Considering Dubai is in a desert, it stands to reason that they don't typically get a great deal of rainfall. But things are slowly changing. The cloud seeding seems to be having a lasting effect, because the amount of annual rainfall has been increasing over the past few years. Incidentally, all the rain has not done a damn thing to stop Dubai from being a desert, but it has increased the number of shrubs in the area, and also scrubs the pollution out of the air. Which is a fine stop-measure for now, until Dubai finally buckles down and just builds themselves a new sky.