This Tiny, Remote Island Is 4x More Densely Populated Than Manhattan

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Grand Central Station. Hong Kong. Times Square. The Mall of America. Name any of the most crowded places on Earth and they still don’t compare to Santa Cruz del Islote.

The tiny island off the coast of Colombia is snowballing into one of the world’s most renowned places because if its unique setup, it’s way of life.

So what’s so special about the island?

Santa Cruz del Islote is home to roughly 1,000 people, yet its size is only the length of two soccer fields. It’s this population density that makes it the most densely populated place on the planet, four times the density of Manhattan.

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Screengrab: YouTubeTo say that residents live in close quarters is an understatement. No one knows the exactly number, but dozens of families live in roughly 97 houses on the island.


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There is only one school (that goes to the 10th grade), two shops and one restaurant.


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Instead of money, the economy runs on fishing and services such as cleaning, cooking and tourism guides which some islanders provide to luxurious hotels on the neighboring islands.

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There is no police. Children run freely. There strong community support, neighbors consistently relying on neighbors for support.


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Kind of sounds like paradise, right? Now for the down-sides.

The island is super remote, a two-hour boat ride from the main land. It’s also very poor.

While some people have solar panels, the entire island has just one generator that runs for five hours a day.

There is also no clean drinking water. People rely on rain buckets.

There is also no sewer. And there is a problem with trash disposal.


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So how did Santa Cruz del Islote develop in the first place?

The island was uninhabited 150 years ago, simply used by fisherman as a rest stop and for shelter during storms. But it wasn’t long before fisherman started building their homes on the island, hence the population explosion.


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So how do the people of Santa Cruz del Islote feel about living on top of one another? You may be surprised.

If you want to really get off the grid and indulge yourself into a dump truck dose full of culture, this island is for you. But if you get panic attacks while in large crowds, Santa Cruz del Islote probably isn’t ideal real estate.


Josh Helmuth is a sports reporter in St. Louis who contributes for Mandatory. Follow him here.