World of Second Life

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Second Life Mainlands
The World of Second Life is made up of a large number of "regions" of land. Most of these are united together to form 2 large land masses, or Mainlands. Residents may buy or rent parcels of land in a region, allowing them to build, display, and store their virtual creations, as well as host events and businesses. It is also possible to buy islands, separate from the Mainland, which offer greater control and security to the owners. The majority of companies and institutions setting up in SL tend to follow this route as the increased security offsets the (usually) higher cost.

The ultra-high altitude map shown in this article gives a view of the mainland land masses. However, it is too high to reveal the private islands.

The combination of mainlands and islands results in a flat, earth-like environment that is simulated on a large array of servers, and is referred to as The Grid. Each server (running Debian Linux, for those into that sort of thing) is capable of running multiple copies of the server software. Each copy is described as a "simulation", hence the term "sim" is used to describe a region, whether it is an island or on one of the mainlands. It is worth making this distinction, as there is often confusion that Second Life is like the game, The Sims!

Virtual Real Estate companies like Anshe Chung (touted as the first US dollar millionaire created in Second Life) will supply land on both the mainland and separate islands, along with building services. However, many residents will acquire and develop their own land for themselves. Since Linden Labs owns all the physical servers, such purchases must be made from them. Companies and Institutions are likely to use the services professional builders.

Follow the link to use a Second Life region browser. As at 16/01/07 there were over 6000 regions listed.


The world of Second Life would be simple drab patches of greenery if it weren't for construction. Linden Labs sell off the virtual land to individuals and, latterly, companies to do with largely as they wish. Invariably this means construction, using editing tools supplied as part of the Second Life software. First, the new owner terraforms the land to produce the required landscape. Then buildings and other architectural features are erected, using derivations of basic primitive shapes, or "prims", textured and sized as necessary to form the required design. Finally the buildings are furnished and the exteriors enriched with shrubs, trees, paths ertc. Many individuals do their own construction, but it is common to employ specialists, as the work typically requires a combination of art & design skills, 3D modelling skills and programming skills.

Companies and contractors exist to fulfil this niche.

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