The Maldives is a South Asian nation comprised by islands in the Indian Ocean. The country had an estimated 363,657 residents in 2015, spread over its 90,000 square kilometers of land area. The Maldives is the smallest republic in Asia. In a country made up of around 1,200 islands, almost one-quarter of Maldivians lives on Malѐ Island alone. The major islands in the Maldives are discussed below.
Malѐ is the capital city of the Maldives, with a population of 92,555 people. The island of the same name where it is centered upon is roughly 1.0 kilometers wide and 1.7 kilometers long, and it is subsequently one of the most densely populated urban areas in the world. The city was an ancient administrative center of monarchies and harbored palaces and mosques. The contemporary city was established by Portuguese merchants in the 16th Century. The island is the administrative center of the nation, and it is home to numerous government offices.The island has the major port and is the commercial center of the republic. Tourism is a major contributor to the livelihoods of the inhabitants. The island is the primary destination for inter-island migration in the Maldives. The rising population has led to problems such as inadequate housing, congestion, violence, and crime. Overcrowding in the city has caused some of its inhabitants to live in slum conditions.
Fuvahmulah Island has a total of 12,380 inhabitants. The island is located on its atoll. The island has several native bird and fish species, notably the common moorhen bird and the fish locally known as Kattelhi. Sweet potatoes, apples, oranges, mangoes, and guavas are some agricultural produce from the island. Maldivians on the island largely speak the Mulaki bas, a subset of the Dhivehi language. The island is considered as the most beautiful island of the Republic, with stretches of beaches, two freshwater lakes, wetlands, marshes, forests. Tourism is a booming industry in the country. The island has become increasingly overpopulated a situation that is attributed to high fertility rates.
Villingili Island was intended to solve the overcrowding problem in the capital island of Malѐ. The government and the private sector have partnered to build over a hundred villas in the island. The Island is an exclusive resort island in the Seenu Atoll. An abundant marine life abounds around the island, despite constant pollution of the sea. The pollution problem is compounded by smoke, due to the island’s proximity to Thilafushi (Rubbish Island), where the bulk of the country’s waste is incinerated. There are few cars on the island and walking is the primary mode of transport. The island offers a cheaper living standard than that of Malѐ Island and has a population of 6,956 inhabitants.
Hulhumale Island is a man-made Island with 2,866 residents. The island was artificially reclaimed to serve the rising housing requirements in the capital of Malѐ. The reclamation process began in 1997 ending in 2002. Development projects subsequently commenced on the island, however, the island remains largely under-developed and its land mass under-utilized. Pollution on the island is relatively less compared to other islands in the Maldives. Tourism is a growing industry in the island, which has a marina and numerous guest houses.
Overcrowding in the Maldives
The other main islands in the Maldives, and their respective population sizes, include Dharavandhoo with 2,150 residents, followed by Komandoo of Shaviyani Atoll (1,621), Thoddoo (1,461), Hulhule or Airport Island (1,316), Maafushi (1,234), Ukulhas (998), Gulhi (843), Kuramathi (839), and Huraa of Kaafu Atoll (748) The population of the Maldives is expected to grow to around 0.37 million by 2020. The government of Maldives faces the challenge of overcrowding in its larger islands. Efforts to promote developments have been initiated in other islands as an alternative destination for migration.