The Island No One Owns

30 minutes

If you want to build a house on the Caribbean island of Barbuda, you can just put up a fence wherever you want, and have it. You don’t pay for it. You don’t sign for anything. You just have to be Barbudan. Barbudans have held their pink sand paradise “in common” since the 1800s. No titles. No paperwork.

But on the heels of a major disaster, the Prime Minister has come up with a new plan. He wants to sell Barbudans the plot of land they’ve been living on for one Eastern Caribbean dollar and give them legally binding property titles they can take to a bank, to help rebuild. A lot of Barbudans don’t want the deal, though. I team up with reporter Sarah Gonzalez from NPR’s Planet Money podcast to tell the story.

Visit my website to see some photos from our trip to Barbuda.


On Far From Home, award-winning public radio journalist Scott Gurian documents fascinating stories from far-flung places like Iran, Chernobyl, and Mongolia. For more info, visit

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Start listening to Far From Home: Season 1 Trailer