Located off the coast of Columbia, Santa Cruz del Islote, the Caribbean island is perhaps one of the most crowded places in the world and despite the fair reasons that might seem to make life an oppressive and suffocating experience, people living on the island are but remarkably happy, lively and at peace.
Here are 10 remarkable facts about the tiny island that would make you scratch your head in wonder.
1. It is an artificial island.
Though when the island was exactly discovered isn’t clear, it is believed that Santa Cruz del Islote first came to the notice of a few Columbian fishermen in the 19th century who wanted to take rest as well as stay in the middle of the waters so that they could fish for a longer time. They liked it so much that they settled there and ‘built’ it further and thus it is categorized today as an artificial island.
2. 12,000 people living in 0.012 sq km of land.
With about 1,200 people living together on the surface of the island which has an area of just more than two acres, Santa Cruz is one of the most densely populated islands in the world.
3. The absence of mosquitoes made the early settlers fall in love with the island.
One of the reasons that the fishermen fell in love with the island and decided to settle on it more than a hundred and fifty years ago was that it had no mosquitoes and thus they had a very sound sleep on the island.
4. The only open space is a small courtyard.
As of today, the island has 97 houses, a school, a restaurant and two grocery stores. It is so crowded that often the structures extend to the waters and the only open space in the island is a small courtyard. The school, which has around 80 children, is looked after by one security guard employed by the government of Columbia to satisfy the state law.
5. It doesn’t have a doctor, cemetery, and electricity.
The island doesn’t have a doctor or even a cemetery. Whenever someone from the island dies, the corpse is taken out of the island and is buried in another island nearby. Predictably, it also doesn’t have electricity and a sole generator powers the island just for five hours a day. Solar panels, thereby, plays a very impacting role.
6. No running water for the people.
Though surrounded by water, the people there struggle over drinking water each day. The only time that they get fresh water is when the Columbian navy comes to the island once in three weeks and delivers water for the residents of the island.
7. No history of crime.
Despite lack of amenities and being poor, the Islanders but live very peacefully. There was never a case of violence or conflict and people are not wary of crime. Everyone moves about freely and parties together. There is no police on the island. Often, a great many people just gather at the home of one person to watch television.
8. Tourism and fishing are the main sources of income for the people.
Due to lack of job opportunities, most of the people on the island need to move out to find employment in other nearby islands or mainland. Besides that, the other sources of income for the island are fishing and tourism.
9. The youths want to get out of the island.
Around 65% of the residents on the island are youths. And unlike their predecessors who found the island to be a paradise and settled here, many of the youths of the present generation want to get out of the island and settle in the mainland for better career opportunities, facilities, and lifestyles.
10. The interesting origin of the name.
The name of the island has but an interesting origin. It is believed that the first settlers on the island one day found a cross made of concrete on the shore of the island which was brought along by the tides. They picked it, seeing it as a divine hint, and erected in the midst of the island. Till that point of time, the island had no name and thus the cross (‘cruz’ is Spanish) led to the naming of the island as Santa Cruz del Islote.