The World’s Most Crowded Island Has 800 People Living On a 2.4-Acre Outcrop

Located off the coast of Colombia is the world’s most crowded island, where more than 800 people are crammed onto a 2.4-acre patch of land. Santa Cruz del Islote is a man-made outcrop that was established by local fishermen in the 19th century as a base from which to cast their nets. Over the years, the population has continued to grow, becoming a chaotic place where the houses are on top of each other, there’s no sewer system, and drinking water has to be shipped in. The buildings are so intertwined that sometimes people have to walk through each other’s homes to get to the other side. No matter where you turn, there are people. There are only four streets and the place is entirely constructed of concrete. The people there don’t even have cars or motorcycles. Locals explain that the population continues to rise because there's no birth control, and most women have their first child at age 16. Despite its small size, Santa Cruz del Islote has an array of amenities, including a school, a church, a clinic, a hotel, a restaurant, a small pub, and three markets. There is no cemetery, so after being paraded around the small central square, corpses are transferred to the mainland to be buried. Sewage and garbage disposal plants are also absent, so much of the waste goes directly into the sea. For power, many of the homes have been kitted out with solar panels and generator systems, but the locals say the electricity is unreliable and is often down for days at a time. When it comes to revenue, most islanders make money from tourism, either offering island or boat tours. Fishing was once a prosperous industry, but the islanders say the stocks have been heavily depleted and now they rely on shipments of seafood from the mainland to supplement their diet. Because the island is so small and everyone knows each other, there is no crime on the island. Most of the people living there have never been off the island and say they have no desire to leave. The community has a deep bond and they focus on shared happiness and positive values.