If you answered Manhattan, you are correct if you are basing your answer strictly on population. As of 2013, Manhattan, with a land area of 23 square miles, had a population of 1.6 million people. But if you measure how crowded an island is by population density (ratio of population to square miles), one tiny, obscure island stands tall above all the rest. The distinction of most densely populated island on earth belongs to Santa Cruz del Islote, one of the tiniest islands in the Archipelago of San Bernardo, located in Colombia’s Gulf of Morrosquillo. To place it on the map, it is about a two-hour trip southwest of the city of Cartagena, the first major city to the east of Panama, in the northwestern region of South America. The island is 2.4 acres (approximately .004 square miles) with a population of 1,200 residents. Thus the population density of Santa Cruz del Islote is about four times higher than Manhattan: 300,000 residents (1200/.004) versus 69,565 residents for Manhattan (1.6M/23). Now that’s really crowded. The crowded homes on Santa Cruz del Islote elevate the concept of “zero-lot-line houses” to a new level.
The island was discovered about 150 years ago by some local fisherman and is populated by the descendants of those early intrepid travelers. The town’s land is completely covered by 90 single-level houses, one school, one restaurant, two shops, a discoteca. The only open spaces are a courtyard (about half the size of a tennis court) and the main dock area that faces the south. From the air, the island looks like a round checkered table cloth. A YouTube video of a walkthrough tour of the entire island takes about 60 seconds (try that in Manhattan!). The island does not have room for a cemetery (the deceased are buried on other islands). Since there are only a few businesses in town, so where do most resident work? Most of them employment on neighboring islands, working at resorts or on fishing boats. And unlike nearby island, Santa Cruz del Islote has no mosquitoes.
Life is simple, but spartan: electricity runs for about five hours a day, there is no sewage system. Since there is no running potable water, the Colombian navy drops off fresh water every three weeks. The island has no doctor or police officer, although there is one security guard for the school, where 80 children attend, mandated by federal law. Since everyone knows everyone, the crime rate is very low and residents never lock their doors (imagine that in Manhattan!). In an interview, one resident remarked: “Life here is calm and delightful. We don’t have violence, we don’t need police, we all know each other and we enjoy our days.”
For further reading: www.news.com.au/travel/travel-ideas/life-in-the-most-crowded-place-on-earth/story-e6frfqd9-1227452353659