The Kuna Tribe in the San Blas Archipelago – Panama’s own Drowning Islands
The drowning islands blog deals primarily with climate change impacts on coral atoll “stand alone” countries – Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and the Maldives. However, it also weaves together stories of flood, tsunami, and non “drowning island” locations as a way of illustrating the fact that all individuals, organisms, and locations are impacted by climate change. Bangladesh is rather famously impacted by rising sea levels, many Alaskan villages are somewhere in the process of relocating due to melting permafrost, and many communities from non-independent islands are discussing whether to begin relocating as well.
One example is the Kuna tribe of the San Blas Archipelago off the coast of Panama.
This idyllic chain of islands and their decorated, fascinating inhabitants enjoy relative semi-autonomy from mainland Panama, after achieving their independence in 1938.
I was able to visit the incredible islands and their unique people in October, and was absolutely stunned by the beauty of this place.
It was not the easiest trip I have ever taken, but certainly one of the most beautiful.
Sadly, this low-lying archipelago is warming, so it’s coral reefs and vegetation are dying at alarming rates.
The islands rise just above sea level, precariously, so naturally the Kuna are talking about leaving for higher ground.
Words do not do this place justice, so I am posting a multitude of pictures in this post, and will write more at a later date.