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Tangier, a sinking island

Slightly elevated strips

The remaining habitable parts of the island are narrow elevated strips surrounded by marshes and connected to each other by several bridges.

Tangier, a sinking island

Flat as a pancake

Even from a distance, it is easy to see the vulnerability of Tangier and the buildings on it. At its highest point, the island is just 1.2 meters (4 feet) above the water.

Tangier, a sinking island

Blue gold

Blue crabs are one of the reasons that people have been living on this remote island for centuries. Many locals harvest them in Chesapeake Bay.

Tangier, a sinking island

Not a lot to live on

After a massive loss of land over the past century, there are only about 3 square kilometers (1.1 square miles) of Tangier Island left. Much of that is uninhabitable marshland.

Tangier, a sinking island

Nowhere to run

Since much of the island is so low lying, it is not uncommon for water to push up through the sewers at high tide. There is nowhere else for it to go.

Tangier, a sinking island

Bury them high

The unusual geography of Tangier has also affected treatment of the dead. Far from being buried "six feet under," those interred on Tangier are laid to rest above ground.

Tangier, a sinking island

Unique culture, far removed

Tangier has become increasingly popular with tourists. Some come because they want to experience the local culture, others want to see the rapidly disappearing island before it's too late.


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At Global Ideas, we focus on "best practice" climate and biodiversity protection projects that offer solutions and inspire others to take action. Each week, an international team of television and online reporters produce films and features that offer an insight into how developing and emerging countries are dealing with the impacts of climate change. Global Ideas is supported by the German environment ministry within the framework of its International Climate Initiative. 

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