More and more of the world's people live in coastal regions. Many major cities are on or near good harbors and have port facilities. Some landlocked places have achieved port status by building canals.
The coast is a frontier that nations have typically defended against military invaders, smugglers and illegal migrants. Fixed coastal defenses have long been erected in many nations and coastal countries typically have a navy and some form of coast guard.
Coasts, especially those with beaches and warm water, attract tourists. In many island nations such as those of the Mediterranean, South Pacific and Caribbean, tourism is central to the economy. Coasts offer recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, surfing, boating, and sunbathing. Growth management can be a challenge for coastal local authorities who often struggle to provide the infrastructure required by new residents.