The indigenous people of San Blas are forced to relocate, thanks to rising seas and climate change.

The residents of San Blas, a white sand beach archipelago off the coast of Panama, are adapters. Every year, they brace for the rainy season, which fills their homes and shoreline with crashing waves and water. According to Reuters: "Rising ocean levels caused by global warming and decades of coral reef destruction have combined with seasonal rains to submerge the Caribbean islands for days on end. Once rare, flooding is now so menacing that the Guna have agreed to abandon ancestral lands for an area within their semi-autonomous territory on the east coast of the mainland."

Below, a look at the island home many are leaving behind.

A traffic sign reading 'Slow down' is seen between islands at the Coamarca of Kuna Yala. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)
An indigenous Guna woman stands in her family house in Carti Sugdub island at the Comarca of Kuna Yala in Panama. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)
A group of indigenous Gunas play at the lamp post in Carti Sugdub island at the Comarca of Kuna Yala in Panama. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)
An indigenous Guna boy walks past a clothes line in Nusadup island at the Comarca of Kuna Yala in Panama. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

An indigenous Guna man holds the head of a tapir before butchering its remains in Tumatar island. (Reuters)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a tiny house in Oregon

    How Amazon Could Transform the Tiny House Movement

    Could the e-commerce giant help turn small-home living from a niche fad into a national housing solution?

  2. The downtown St. Louis skyline.

    Downtown St. Louis Is Rising; Black St. Louis Is Being Razed

    Square co-founder Jack Dorsey is expanding the company’s presence in St. Louis and demolishing vacant buildings on the city’s north side.

  3. Environment

    What U.S. Cities Facing Climate Disaster Risks Are Least Prepared?

    New studies find cities most vulnerable to climate change disasters—heat waves, flooding, rising seas, drought—are the least prepared.

  4. a photo of Housing Secretary Ben Carson in Baltimore in July.

    How HUD Could Dismantle a Pillar of Civil Rights Law

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to revise the “disparate impact” rule, which could fundamentally reshape federal fair housing enforcement.  

  5. Warren Logan

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.