When you think of the most crowded islands on earth what comes to mind?
Manhattan? Somewhere in China or India?
The top three on this list are intriguing in that their geographical locations and cultural backgrounds are decidedly distinct. They range from quite large to unbelievably tiny and give a unique insight to the expression ‘packed like a sardine.’
3. Migingo Island – Kenya
People per square kilometre: 100, 000
Size: 0.004 square kilometres
Migingo makes this list due to its size, its extremely tiny size. It is a small fishing village perched rather precariously on a large rock on the middle of Lake Victoria in Kenya. The residents live here so they can catch hauls of Nile Perch, the famously large fish of the region. The island is disputed territory between Kenya and Uganda, not for the island itself of course, but the fishing rights it accesses. Funnily enough, there is a Facebook Page called Migingo is KENYAN which has more than double the likes of the island’s entire population.
2. Ap Lei Chau – Hong Kong
Population: 86, 782
People per square kilometre: 66, 755
Size: 1.32 square kilometres.
Hong Kong comes as no surprise on this list. It is the land of a thousand towers desperately clustered together as millions of people seek access to the riches of this famous port city. Translated to mean “Duck’s Tongue Island” said to be based on the island’s shape, Ap Lei Chau is mostly high-rise residences and a hurricane shelter for Aberdeen Harbour. It does have Asia’s only fully functional urban winery though called the 8th Estate, located inside one of its many industrial buildings. The grapes are flash frozen and shipped in, as there is no room for agriculture on the Duck’s Tongue
1. Santa Cruz del Islote – Colombia
People per square kilometre: 124, 700
Size: 0.01 square kilometres.
The top award goes to a micro slum off the Colombian coast. Sitting within the gorgeous emerald waters of the Caribbean, the island is packed so densely that many day-to-day activities must be outsourced. People live on the island but undertake sports, work and even burial ceremonies on the mainland or neighbouring islands. The island contains 90 homes, two shops, one restaurant and a school that sit back-to-back right up to, and sometimes over, the shoreline. Legends says that Islote was settled when fisherman came upon it and found an abundance of lobsters and fish but no mosquitoes, thanks to favourable wind directions.
A steady flow of tourists from Tolu on the mainland keeps the island’s economy afloat. Fresh water is shipped in by Colombian Navy ships and a generator puts out electricity for five hours each day. Despite these basic challenges, the island residents say they are happy. There is no crime, everyone knows each other and life on Santa Cruz Islote is calm and tranquil. It’s proof that no amount of space and money can buy happiness.