You might be surprised to hear how peaceful life is on the most densely populated island on Earth.
Now this is crowded.
If you could persuade everyone on Earth to spread out equally, we’d all have a lot more peace and quiet. Even with world population dramatically on the rise, there’s still 5.12 acres of land on this planet for every single human being. That’s about four football fields apiece. (Granted, about 700 million of us would have to live in Antarctica. Personally, I would send people who hum or whistle in their work cubicle.) Would we all get along better with plenty of room? You might be surprised to hear how peaceful life is on the most densely populated island on Earth.
A population density of over 250,000 per square mile.
The Archipelago of San Bernardo is a scatter of tiny islands in Colombia’s Gulf of Morrosquillo. Just a two-hour journey southwest of Cartagena through crystalline Caribbean waters lies the smallest isle in the archipelago, Santa Cruz del Islote. Though it’s only 2.4 acres in size, Santa Cruz is home to over 1,200 people. That’s four times as dense as Manhattan—and with no high-rises at all, just tiny one-story houses linked by a maze of alleyways.
Come for the sweet dreams!
Locals like to say that Santa Cruz was discovered about 150 years ago by some wandering fisherman from Barú, on the Colombia coast. They noticed that the island had no mosquitoes—a rarity in the Caribbean—and set up camp. That night, as the legend goes, the men slept so peacefully that they decided to stay.
Every inch of Santa Cruz is filled.
Today, their descendants have crammed 90 houses, two shops, one restaurant, one all-ages discoteca, and a school onto just .004 square miles of (partly artificial) land. The only unoccupied space is a courtyard about half the size of a tennis court, and buildings stretch right to the water on all sides. Most residents work elsewhere, either fishing or staffing resorts on nearby islands.
It may be crowded, but it’s still paradise.
The people of Santa Cruz couldn’t be more jam-packed, but they seem to get by okay without stepping on too many toes. There’s no doctor there, just a few hours of electricity a day thanks to a single generator, and no running water or sewer system. The Colombian navy drops off a limited amount of fresh water every three weeks.) But despite that, locals describe life on the island as calm and peaceful. No one locks their doors, and children are unusually well-behaved in a community where everyone they know is always just a few hundred feet away. The only way most residents will ever move away from Santa Cruz del Islote is when they die…because the island has no room for a cemetery.