When someone thinks of an island, the typical image that comes to mind is a stretch of land with a warm climate, pristine beaches, and clear blue water. This is true of some islands, which are remote, have a small land area, and an even smaller population. But less true of those that are densely packed, and have become buzzing metropolises where it’s hard to hear over the noise of everyday life, let alone relax.
For those who want a true adventure, and are willing to travel to the middle of nowhere, or literally the other end of the Earth, then there are some lovely islands to explore. Some only have a handful of permanent residents, while others have a population of a few thousand, but because there is so much open space, it feels as though they are isolated. On the other end of the scale, there are islands that are incredibly overcrowded, like the tiny Santa Cruz del Islote in Columbia. This island is just 2.4 acres in size, yet it is home to 1,200 people.
Below are two types of islands, those that are densely populated, and those that are not, but both of which are fascinating in their own right.
25 Overpopulated: Santa Cruz Del Islote Has Managed To Cram A School And A Restaurant Onto A Very Small Space
There are many beautiful islands in the world where people can go to disappear from the drone of everyday life, and enjoy just being alone, but Santa Cruz del Islote, in Colombia, is not one of those places because it is considered to be the world’s most crowded island. According to Conde Nast Traveler, the island is the smallest in the Archipelago of San Bernardo, and despite being just 2.4 acres in size, it is home to 1,200 people.
The publication notes that every inch of the island has been filled, and this includes homes, a school, a restaurant, and even two shops.
24 Overpopulated: The Main Island Of Kiribati Is As Crowded As Hong Kong
The Pacific island chain of Kiribati is yet another place where people are eager to make their home. According to BBC, Kiribati consists of several islands although most of the population resides on the main island of South Tarawa. And South Tarawa is a particularly crowded place because the publication notes that around 50,000 people live here, making it as densely populated as Hong Kong.
Apart from being overpopulated, the publication also notes that the island chain is at risk from climate change and no piece of the land on the island sits more than 2 meters above sea level.
23 Overpopulated: Manhattan Has Utilized Its Space Wisely, But It Is Very Densely Populated
You may not think of Manhattan as your typical island paradise, and perhaps that’s because it is so densely populated.
Santa Cruz del Islote is just 2.4 acres and has more than 1,200 people living there, making it four times more dense than Manhattan (as noted by Conde Nast Traveler). But according to World Atlas, the New York borough covers an area of 23 square miles and has a population of more than 1.62 million.
The limited space has been well utilized though, and there are many high-rise apartments and office blocks.
22 Overpopulated: Migingo Island Is Only About Half The Size Of A Football Pitch Yet Over 130 People Reside Here
Often listed as one of the most overcrowded islands in the world is Migingo Island in Lake Victoria. According to The Telegraph, the island is about half of the size of a football pitch (less than one acre), yet it is home to 131 people, giving it a population density of 65,500 per square km.
The publication notes that although it was once home to a single fisherman, many have now joined him because of the amount of Nile perch fish that can be caught in the region.
21 Overpopulated: Mauritius Is A Dream Holiday Destination But It Has Too Many People For It's Economy To Function
Mauritius is often thought of as a holiday destination where tourists can go to enjoy the sun and sea. But putting the country’s beautiful beaches aside for a moment, it’s also worth noting that it is overpopulated. According to The CS Monitor, the island is 720-miles long and “one of the most densely crowded nations in the world.”
A diplomat in the country commented on the overpopulation explaining that for the economy there were 500,000 too many people. They also explained that everyone is on top of each other, or, as they put it, “everyone's standing on everyone's head.”
20 Overpopulated: Fadiouth Has Been Harvesting Clams For Centuries And The Evidence Is Everywhere
Another island to find its way onto this list is Senegal Fadiouth island, which according to The Telegraph, covers just 0.15 square km and is populated by 9,000 people, making it one of the most overcrowded islands in the world.
The publication notes that the island is almost entirely covered in clamshells, which have been vital to the livelihood of the people living in the area and have been harvested (and discarded) by the island’s residents for centuries.
19 Overpopulated: The Island Of Java Is Where More Than Half Of The Population Of Indonesia Call Home
Java is an island in Indonesia (a country which is made up of thousands of islands), and according to World Population Review, around 56.7 percent of the Indonesian population live on the island. To put this into perspective, the site notes that as of 2018, the Indonesian population was estimated to be around 266.79 million.
According to Britannica, Java is 661 miles long from east to west and is more densely populated than the country's other islands, with an average of more than 2,600 persons per square mile.
18 Overpopulated: Salsette Island Is Not What You Imagine When You Think Of A Typical Island Getaway
Salsette Island covers an area of 619 square kilometers and can be found in India, and according to Amusing Planet, it is one of the world’s most crowded islands. The publication notes that the island is home to the “metropolis of Mumbai” as well as the city of Thane and Mira-Bhayandar which lie on it.
Originally it was occupied by a fishing community known as the Kolis (they are the first recorded settlers in the region), but a lot has changed since this time and the island now has over 15 million people living here. Considering the size of the island and the large population, this creates a population density of 24,414 per square kilometer.
17 Overpopulated: The Locals In Venice Feel That Mass Tourism Is To Blame For Its Overcrowding
Venice is celebrated for being a destination where romance can happen (taking a ride on a gondola through the canals seems like the perfect date idea) but the northeast Italian city is also a very crowded island. And not just with locals, but also tourists who flock to the destination.
Venice often finds itself the topic of articles because of the overcrowding, and according to The Telegraph, tourism could be to blame. Some local residents have launched a resistance movement to put an end to mass tourism, which they feel has changed the structure of the city.
16 Overpopulated: Easter Island Could Be An Example Of What Happens When An Island Has Too Many People Living In One Place
Easter Island is an island in the Pacific Ocean best known for being an archaeological site because of the hundreds of moai statues that can be found here. These statues were created by the Rapa Nui people (and, according to Forbes, are between 1,100 and 1,500 CE) and they are all that remains of the civilization that once lived there.
But Easter Island may also serve as a lesson of the effects of overpopulation (although not in the present day) because according to Chris Maser’s Blog, this 43-square-mile piece of land was initially fertile. But over years, when the population expanded, so did the demand for land, and the result of individuals clearing the land for agricultural reasons resulted in deforestation.
15 Overpopulated: Ebeye Island Residents Have Not Had Their Sewerage Or Water Facilities Work Properly For Decades
Ebeye Island is an island in The Marshall Islands. It is a destination that has a five-year-long infrastructure revamp (beginning in 2016) to improve the sewage and water system, which according to Radio NZ, had not worked efficiently for over 40 years.
In addition to sewage and water issues, the island also has an overcrowding problem, and people are crammed into a tiny space. According to The Telegraph, the island is home to 15,000 people, even though the area is just 0.360 square km.
14 Overpopulated: New York's Long Island Is Where 39 Percent Of The State's Population Live
According to World Island Info, among the world’s most overpopulated islands is New York’s Long Island, which finds itself on the 17th spot on the list. According to the World Population Review, with regards to population density, Long Island has "5,402 people per square mile," and is home to 39 percent of the population in the state of New York.
In fact, the publication notes that if Long Island was a state, it would be number 13 in terms of how densely populated it is.
13 Overpopulated: The Philippines Island Of Luzon Is Cramped, Yet The Population Continues To Grow Rapidly
Luzon, the island located on the northern end of the Philippines, has the largest population in the country. Images taken of the island show that overcrowding is experienced here.
According to PopCom, the population in the Philippines is continuing to rise and has surpassed 100 million. According to the site, the country has the highest growth rate of any other country in Southeast Asia, and the population is expected to grow for the next 50 years, even if families are limited to two children.
12 Overpopulated: Sumatra Is Said To Be The World's Fourth Most Populous Island
The island of Sumatra, in Indonesia, is a special place because it is home to a diverse number of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic to the island. But some of the species on the island have become threatened due to hunting for commercial gain, and habitat loss, which is in part due to the human population increasing on the island.
According to WWF, more than 60 million people live on Borneo and Sumatra, but the population of Sumatra alone is estimated to be around 50 million people, making it “the world's fourth most populous island.”
11 Overpopulated: Paris' Luxury Île Saint-Louis Is Beautiful But There's Not Much Space
The Île Saint-Louis can be found on the Seine river (The Telegraph notes that it is one of two natural islands on the river), and it seems like an ideal place to call home.
Sure, it may be idyllic, but there is also not much space. According to World Atlas, the area covers just over 0.04 square miles, and around 2,465 people call Île Saint-Louis their home. Here, you can find luxury homes and restaurants, and it is an area that has appealed to foreign buyers, The Telegraph reports.
10 Isolated: The Residents Of Tristan Da Cunha Have Plenty Of Free Space To Roam Around
Many of the islands mentioned above may not be appealing because you will have to rub shoulders with people, but Tristan da Cunha, a group of islands in Saint Helena, finds itself on the opposite end of the scale. According to World Atlas, these islands are very remote and are among the least densely populated areas in the world.
The publication reports that the island is only home to around 262 people, yet the area is around 200 square kilometers -- which gives them all plenty of space.
9 Isolated: The Pitcairn Islands Are Super Remote And In Need Of A Population Boost
The Pitcairn Islands are another destination that should be visited by those who want to avoid the normal tourists' destinations and opt for something more remote. According to The Telegraph, there are so few people (around 50, with a population that continues to dwindle) on the island, that the residents have appealed to people to move here to boost the population.
The area apparently covers two square miles and has great weather, although it’s not exactly a booming economy with only one general store and a few jobs.
8 Isolated: The Falkland Islands Only Have A Small Population, With Much Of The Economy Focused On Sheep Farming
The Falkland Islands is an overseas territory belonging to the United Kingdom, and according to Britannica, the area is 12,200 square km with a population of just 2,563 (although the publication notes this consensus does not take into account the British military units which are stationed here).
Most of those who do live here are of British descent and a large majority of the two main islands is dedicated to sheep farming. Considering the size of the islands, and the small population, this makes it one of the least densely populated places in the world.
7 Isolated: Only Two Of The 27 Cocos Keeling Islands Are Inhabited By Humans
The Cocos Keeling Islands are a group of small islands, which are definitely a place where people want to find themselves if peace and quiet are what they are after. The 27 islands are a territory of Australia and are located in a remote spot in the Indian Ocean.
According to the Cocos Keeling Islands website, only two of the islands are inhabited. The islands are a destination that is great for fishing, diving, and the opportunity to spend time on sandy beaches.
World Atlas notes that the population here is just under 600.
6 Isolated: Toshima Is A Great Place To Star Gaze Or Swim With Local Dolphins
Toshima is an island that is located around 2 and a half hours away from Tokyo if taking a high-speed ferry. The Go Tokyo website reveals that the island is quiet, with a population of just 300 permanent residents. But it's a great place to explore because of its interesting landscapes and things to do, which include a tour to swim with local dolphins, and stargazing.
However, the publication also notes that a traveler only really needs to spend around 2 days here to see the sights.