Male City Map
Male is the capital and most populous city in the Republic of Maldives. It is located at the southern edge of North Male Atoll (Kaafu Atoll). It is also one of the Administrative divisions of the Maldives. Traditionally it was the King's Island, from where the ancient Maldive Royal dynasties ruled and where the palace was located. The city was also called Mahal. Formerly it was a walled city surrounded by fortifications and gates (doroshi).
The Royal Palace (Gan'duvaru) was destroyed along with the picturesque forts (kotte) and bastions (buruzu) when the city was remodelled under President Ibrahim Nasir's rule after the abolition of the monarchy. However, the beautifully decorated Male Hukuru Miskiy remains. In recent years, the island has been considerably expanded through landfilling operations. Over the years there have been many coup attempts and protests centered in Male as a result of demand for greater democracy in the Maldives.
Although Male is geographically located in Male, Kaafu Atoll, administratively it is not considered part of it. The central part of the city is formed by Male Island. Three more islands are part of the city. A commercial harbour is located on Male Island. It is the heart of all commercial activities in the country.
The central island is heavily urbanized, with the built-up area taking up essentially its entire landmass. Slightly less than one third of the nation's population lives in the capital city, and the population has increased from 20,000 people in 1987 to 100,000 people in 2006. Many, if not most, Maldivians and foreign workers in Maldives find themselves in occasional short term residence on the island since it is the only entry point to the nation and the centre of all administration and bureaucracy.
The city is divided into six divisions, four of which are on Male Island: Henveiru, Galolhu, Maafannu and Macchangolhi. The nearby island of Vilingili, formerly a tourist resort and prior to that a prison, is the fifth division (Vilimale). The sixth division is Hulhumale, an artificial island settled since 2004. In addition, the airport Island Hulhule is part of the city. There are plans for creating a port island on Gulhi Falu reef.
The Island of Male is the equal fourth most densely populated island in the world, and it is the 168th most populous island in the world. Since there is no surrounding countryside, all infrastructure has to be located in the city itself. Water is provided from desalinated ground water; the water works pumps brackish water from 50-60m deep wells in the city and desalinates that using reverse osmosis. Electric power is generated in the city using diesel generators. Sewage is pumped unprocessed into the sea. Solid waste is transported to nearby islands, where it is used to fill in lagoons. The airport was built in this way, and currently the Thilafushi lagoon is being filled in.
Many government buildings and agencies are located on the waterfront. Male International Airport is on adjacent Hulhule Island which includes a seaplane base for internal transportation. Several land reclamation projects have expanded the harbour.