The most crowded island on Earth: Colombia’s Santa Cruz del Islote


In “The most crowded island on Earth,” Katie Amey writes about a tiny Caribbean islet that is “just over two acres but is home to a staggering 1,200 people.” The islet is called Santa Cruz del Islote. Amey summarizes, “Santa Cruz del Islote lies off the coast of Colombia, with 90 houses, two stores, a restaurant and a school. Its size – 0.012 sq km – and number of inhabitants makes it four times more densely populated than Manhattan. First discovered 150 years ago, the island was initially favoured because it had no mosquitoes – a rarity in the area Life on the island is a peaceful one with crime almost non-existent and many locals earning a living through tourism.”  See more information, photos, and a video in the link below. [Photos by Luca Zanetti.]


Here are excerpts:

It’s a tight squeeze on the island of Santa Cruz del Islote in the Caribbean, with 1,200 people inhabiting a lump of rock that’s just 0.012 square kilometres. The island, a two-hour boat trip from Cartagena, Colombia, is four times more densely populated than Manhattan.

Discovered just 150 years ago by a group of passing fisherman, the 2.4 acre islet is situated in the archipelago of San Bernardo. The fishermen, who were travelling from the coastal town of Baru, some 50 kilometres away, made a stunning realisation when they first stumbled upon the island: it had no mosquitoes. A relative rarity in the area, the explorers immediately set up camp. Today, the population has sky-rocketed, topping 1200 inhabitants. It’s also home to 90 houses, two stores, a restaurant and a school. However, space is so limited that many structures extend out over the water.

Since there are no high-rise structures, the isle has built itself outwards instead of upwards, ensuring everyone lives and works on the ground floor. The only empty space on the island is a small courtyard.

Though many residents describe the island as paradise, Santa Cruz del Islote has no doctors, no cemetery – the dead are buried on a nearby island – and one sole generator that runs for just five hours per day. There’s no running water, with the Colombian Navy delivering supplies to the island every three weeks.

The only service that the state provides is a lone security guard, who is stationed at the island’s school, which is attended by 80 children. Law states that there must be a guard for every school in the country.

Lacking basic amenities, it’s unsurprising that most work on nearby islands with tourism being the backbone of the local economies. They offer tourists boat tours along with snorkeling, fishing and diving experiences. Others use their knowledge of the local marine life to supply nearby restaurants with fish.

The life they lead is one that they treasure, with islanders reportedly never having to worry about theft and often gathering in each other’s doorways to watch soap operas, according to Colombia Reports. [. . .]

For full article, a photo gallery, and a video on life on the island, see

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