Migingo, a tiny rock island on Lake Victoria, in Kenya, measures just 2,000-square-metre, but is officially home to over 500 residents making it the most densely populated island in the world.
Migingo Island covers less than half a football pitch but more than 500 people, according to the Ugandan police, live in less than 2,000 square metres area.
The tiny rock island, with its poorly constructed huts, a tiny port, some bars, a brothel and an open-air casino, is heavily contested by Kenya and Uganda that both claim ownership.
The tiny rock island of Migingo has a very unclear history.
According to some accounts, Two Kenyan fishermen, Dalmas Tembo and George Kibebe, were the first inhabitants on the island. When they settled there in 1991, it was covered with weeds and many birds and snakes lived there. Joseph Nsubuga, a Ugandan fisherman, says he settled on Migingo in 2004, when all he found on the island was an abandoned house. It was this kind of contradicting stories, and the battle over the island’s fish-rich waters that created a long-standing conflict over the ownership of Migingo between Kenya and neighboring Uganda.
Migingo is technically located within Kenyan territory, but the Ugandans claimed that fishermen were fishing in Ugandan waters, just 500 meters off the coast of the island.
As human settlement began to swell on the rocky island, Kenya and Uganda decided to create a joint committee to determine the border in 2016, relying on maps dating from the 1920s. However, nothing has come of the committee. In the meantime, the island is co-managed by both countries but tensions occasionally flare up with some local fishermen calling it Africa’s “smallest war”.
The two African nations finally reached an agreement. They would both tax the fishermen living on the island and each send a police force to deter pirates from attacking. Now, Kenyans and Ugandans live on Migingo peacefully.
In 2009, an official census put the population of Migingo at 131, but the number of inhabitants has skyrocketed to around 1,000, according to a recent RT documentary.
Drawn by the large population of Nile perch just waiting to be fished and sold to exporters, fishermen from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania flocked to Migingo and despite measures set in place to keep population under control, the place became packed to the point where there’s hardly any room to walk in the shanty town.
Migingo remains the world most densely populated island till date, but due to over-fishing, it may not hold that title for much longer as people are starting to migrate to other more lucrative fishing spots.
Sources: aljazeera, amusingplanet, Wikipedia