San Cristóbal Island’s Town Growth

The Galápagos archipelago is one of the most important conservation sites in the world. 97% of its land is protected in the National Park and 95% of its native biodiversity is intact. However, the Galápagos is not just home to giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies - a rapidly growing population of ~34,000 people are concentrated on four of its thirteen islands.

PennPraxis' work on San Cristóbal Island focuses predominantly on Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, a town of approximately 8500 residents. San Cristóbal is the only island with a fresh water source. At recent growth rates of over 6% year, compared to 2% on the mainland, San Cristóbal’s population will double in just over ten years and could fill its urban boundary in 15-20 years, putting more residents in precariously low-lying, flood prone locations. With little urban planning, San Cristóbal lacks a strategy for protecting its most vital resources: water. The project, in collaboration with other faculty from Penn’s Galápagos Alliance, addresses this gap through three strategic and ongoing parts: urban growth, topographic mapping, and water sampling.