Indonesia has started the task of counting its islands to better protect its territory and marine resources. It wants to locate and name an extra 1,700 islands in time for the UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names in August. Indonesia wants sovereignty and fishing rights surrounding the islands, many of which its neighbors claim. Indonesia says illegal fishing is costing billions of dollars in lost revenue each year. A spokeswoman told the BBC: "Sixty per cent of islands in Indonesia don't have a name or…legal status, so they can easily be taken…by another country."
Indonesia is the world's largest archipelago. In 2012, it registered 13,466 islands. A 1996 law estimated there were 17,508 islands. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea says an island is, "a naturally formed area of land, surrounded by water, which is still exposed at high tide". A government spokesman explained the size of the job the counting team had. He said: "We have to visit every one of these islands, and then we note the coordinates, the name, the meaning of the name, the history of the land and describe the landscape and its geographical history…all that in great detail."