Two hours off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia, and you'll hit the island of Santa Cruz del Islote in the Caribbean Sea, nestled in the archipelago of San Bernardo. It's a small island, a little less than two and a half acres, but you'll notice something very unusual about it. With a population of 1,200 people, the island is more densely populated than the borough of Manhattan in New York City. 90 houses, a school and three businesses-- a restaurant and two stores-- call Santa Cruz del Islote home.
It's a relatively new island, discovered 150 years ago by fishermen coming in from Baru.Most of the locals work in the neighboring Caribbean islands, commuting by ferry. Many of them have jobs on charter boats that offer fishing, snorkeling and diving tours for visitors. Several supplement their income by providing Colombian restaurants with fish. Since space is at such premium, many of the buildings lean out over the water. The only empty outdoor yard place for socializing is a courtyard at the center of the island. There's no running water on the island, so the Colombian Navy delivers potable water every month.
The Colombian government also provides the town's only security, a guard stationed at Santa Cruz del Islote's school, as dictated by ColomAlthough Colombia suffers high crime, corruption, and violence rates, Santa Cruz del Islote sees no crime. The great-grandson of one of the island founders, describes it, "We don't have violence, we don't need police, we all know each other and we enjoy our days. It's a glorious life.
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