Santa Cruz del Islote

2013

One of the most densely populated islands on earth.

On the 31st of October 2011, the United Nations announced the global population had breached seven billion and would expand rapidly for decades, taxing natural resources if countries cannot better manage its growth. With earth’s population approaching unsustainable levels, I wanted to find out how people live in one of the most populated island on earth. Santa Cruz del Islote, one hectare of land 97 houses 700 people. A reportage from a place where population growth is no longer sustainable saturation seems to have been reached.

History and geography

As recounted by elderly people living on the island. Fishermen settled in the mid 19th century. The main reason for the settlement of what was just a sand bank was precisely its desert like features. While the mangrove forests and brackish water ponds of the neighbouring islands made for an ideal mosquito breeding ground, Santa Cruz del Islote had little vegetation no mosquitoes and a great wind constantly blowing trough. It looked and felt like a great place to settle an empty place. The early settlers days were days of plenty, the surrounding waters and coral reefs rich with fish. A lone man that went out to look for snails would fill the canoe in half a day. The settlers began to strengthen the sand bank by sinking the snail’s shells in the sand and so made the foundations onto which they build their homes. This success story travelled fast and attracted family upon family of settlers until it reached near saturation.

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