Santa Cruz del Islote

Santa Cruz del Islote

The world's most densely populated island is the size of two soccer fields.

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Santa Cruz del Islote is a magical place. A population of up to 1,200 live on an island the size of two football fields in the middle of the Caribbean, making it one of the most densely populated islands on the planet.

Santa Cruz del Islote could have come from a book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is magical realism: eighteen families live in 97 houses, there is a school, a restaurant that functions as a port, and a small square with a cross in the middle gives the island – located across from the Gulf of Morrosquillo in the department of Bolívar in Colombia – its name.

The economy is based on fishing and services including cleaning, cooking, tourism guides, which locals provide to the luxurious hotels in neighbouring islands. There is a strong community spirit here – a family who needs help can count on the support of its neighbours.

There is a youth population of around 65%. People live at their own rhythm and many rely on solar panels to provide them with electricity.

The island is vibrant, and life never seems to stop. Children learn to swim and fish from a very young age and are often seen near the seashore, trying to catch a fish or playing with small boats.

There are no reports of violence, there has never been armed conflict, and people do not worry about crime. There is an active street life: groups of children run freely, play traditional street games, and dreadlocked and tattooed teenagers listen to Spanish-language rap at full volume while adults sit in the shade, talking about boxing and preparing food.

A game of dominoes and some beers can mark the start of another party here. Parties can last up to two or three days, or as long as there is beer and rum Cacique to drink, and people dance late into the night to the rhythms of dance hall, champeta and vallenato.

The internet has made young people more aware of the world and, contrary to their parents and grandparents, many plan to leave the island to build lives on the mainland.


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