Fuvahmulah Atoll


Fuvahmulah (Dhivehi: ފުވައްމުލައް) is an island (atoll) in the Maldives. It is under Maldive administrative divisions of Gnaviyani Atoll or Nyaviyani Atoll. The inhabitants speak a distinctive form of the Dhivehi language, known as Mulaku bas.

Fuvahmulah means "Island of the Areca nut palms", Fuvah (or "Fua") in the local language. Other places in the world like Penang in Malaysia and Guwahati in Assam, India, are also named after this nut. The original name of the island could have been Mulah, but was called Fuvahmulah (the Mulah with the areca nut palms) to distinguish it from Boli Mulah – another island in ancient Maldives.

The admiralty charts and some geographers named the island Fua Mulaku. In old French maps the island appeared under the name Poue Molluque.


The Fuvahmulah city is about 4.5 km by 1.2 km with a submerged reef (Rashikedefaro) extending for about three km in a SE direction. In the past Fuvahmulah was a small coral atoll whose southern end was open at a spot called Diyarehifaando and the inside of the island was a saltwater lagoon forming a natural harbor. There is a spot on the southern end known as Kudhuheraival (forest of a small islet), which indicates there was a small separate islet over there in ancient times.

The channel connecting the lagoon with the ocean was closed by massive coral boulders in the past. Thus the inside of the island is lower than its edges. In time the inner lagoon lost its saltiness and all that remains today are two small lakes, wetlands and marshy taro fields. In this respect, Fuvahmulah is like the island of Nukutavake in the Central Pacific.

The northern lake of the island is known as "Dhadimagi Kilhi" (lit. "Lake of Dhadimagu" or "Dhadimagu Lake" since the lake is located in Dhadimagu ward of the island) and the southern is "Bandaara Kilhi" (lit. "State Lake" since the lake has been under state custody throughout history).

Lacking a lagoon and being subject to ocean swells, Fuvahmulah was often inaccessible to seafarers in the past. In the early 2000s a harbor was built at the southeast tip of the island, which minimized the problem to a certain extent. The construction of a domestic airport on the island in 2011 has gradually opened the island to the rest of the country.


Being the second nearest atoll to the Equatore and the first atoll in the Southern Hemisphere among the atolls of the Maldives, Fuvahmulah has many distinctive features which make the island unique and more beautiful than the rest of the islands. As H.C.P Bell says in his monograph, throughout history Maldivians themselves have fairly judged Fuvahmulah to be the most beautiful island in the Maldives. This judgement remains up to this day within the hearts of many Maldivians who express this both in words and deeds on different occasions ranging from TV and radio programmes to the polls taken by newspapers and websites online.

Being a one-island atoll itself and the third largest island in the Maldives (if not for land reclamation), Fuvahmulah includes a diverse range of habitats ranging from tropical woodlands and wetlands to freshwater lakes, well-vegetated marshland areas, white sandy beaches of different variations and pebble texture plus gravel beaches and fertile lands of humus greater in area than any other island in the Maldives. The two freshwater lakes in the island plus the many number of swamps and marshland areas in the island give habitat to different plant and animal species not to be found anywhere else in the Maldives. Among such species, the common moorhen (locally known as Valikukulhu) is a bird natively confined to Fuvahmulah only in the Maldivian archipelago. Also, the dense forest of Syzygium cumini (Jambul), locally known as "Dhanvah Baal" (literally "Jambul forest") to the North of Dhadimagi Kilhi is the largest vegetation of Jambul to be found anywhere in the Maldives since this plant variety is nearly extinct elsewhere in the country. Fuvahmulah is also the largest producer of mangoes in the Maldives. Mango trees are found in abundance and every year hundreds of thousands of mangoes are produced from the island. Fuvahmulah also produces pineapples and oranges which cannot be found anywhere else in the country.

The wetland areas of Fuvahmulah are mostly made up of dense vegetation ranging from ferns to reeds to taro fields. There is an abundance of water spinach and plant varieties such as Syzygium cumini (jambul), pond-apple, mango, pineapple, screwpine, tropical almond, cheese fruit, ambarella, banana and many more. Fuvahmulah is also home to farmland where locals grow crops such as cucumber, tomato, carrot, cabbage, pepper, capsicum, eggplant and ladies' fingers.

Municipal divisions

Fuvahmulah was traditionally divided into nine wards. From North to South these wards were: (1) Dhadimago, (2) Diguvāndo (both stretching from East to West shore), (3) Hōdhado, (5) Dhashokubaa (both segmental) and separated by, (4) Mādhado, (A diagonal strip of parallel width). The other four divisions, occupying the southern part of the island, consisted of two eastern and western strips, bisected into four wards, (6) Mālegan and (8) Dūndigan lying to the East, (7) Miskimmago and (9) Funādo to the West.

In time, some changes were made. In the 1950s, the number of wards were reduced to eight, with the village of Dhashokubaa being merged with Miskimmago. Since then, no changes were made though the increase in population of some wards has put pressure on the neighboring areas, resulting in the extension of some wards with time, and some claims out of the traditional boundaries. An example of such a case is that of the Hōdhado ward. The northerly extension of the settlements of Hōdhado ward by time led to the land from eastern strip of Dhiguvaando and Dhadimago wards being claimed by the village. A similar case occurred in the Funaado-Dundingan boundaries to the south of the island. However, no formal changes have been made in any of the cases and area claims of different views remain up to this day. The officially used maps and government sources as well do not portray any significant changes to the traditional boundaries. Thus, the boundaries of the wards are still to be decided and are subject to change.

Taking into consideration the geography of Fuvahmulah along with its size and population, the 8 wards of the island are officially considered to be administrative divisions which act as the replacement for islands in other atolls. In the past, a chief ('Katheeb') was appointed in charge of the day-to-day affairs of each ward of the island as was done for the remote islands of the other atolls. With the introduction of local government policy in the Maldives, the Decentralization Act of 2010 passed by the People's majlis specifically states that in the case of Fuvahmulah an island council has to be elected for each ward of the island. So like the islands of other atolls across the country, the wards of the island act as separate constituencies. From February 2011 onwards the councils have started functioning.

Each ward of Fuvahmulah has its own distinctive features. The largest division of the island is Dhadimago while most populous ward of the island is Dūndigan.


This is the largest division of the island, located on the north-west of the island. A center of learning as well as an important location for the island's economy. Throughout history, scholars and personalities came into being from this district housing many of the historical sites and landmarks of the island. The number of 'Hafiz's from this district outnumber that of any other district in Fuvahmulah.

Places of interest
  • Thoondu: A white sandy beach on the north of the island. It is a well-known feature of Dhadimago as well as that of the whole Fuvahmulah. Hundreds of people visit this beach everyday, and this figure is higher on special occasions like Maahifun.
  • Dhadimagi Kilhi: One among the two fresh water lakes in Fuvahmulah. Found in the center of the district.
  • Gemmiskiy: The oldest building in Fuvahmulah. In the pre-Islamic period it was a part of the Buddhist monastery and later was the first mosque to be built after the whole island converted to Islam.
  • The Havitta: An ancient ruin of possibly a Buddhist stupa (burial mound). Located within the historical boundaries of the district.
  • Madharusathu-Sheikh Mohammed Jamaaluddeen: One of the four primary schools in Fuvahmulah. This school has been a successful primary school throughout the years.
  • Ulaa pre-school: One of the pre-schools (Kindergarten) in Fuvahmulah.
  • Dhanbo Baal (Dhanvah Baal): A dense vegetation of Syzygium cumini (jambul) locally known as dhanvah associated with the Dhadimagi Kilhi. The wood is durable in water and resistant to termites. It was used for boat building and for construction purposes in the past. Not only the islanders benefitted from it, but was also exported to the neighbouring atolls. This plant variety is nearly extinct elsewhere in the Maldives.
  • Dhadimago Fanno: An iconic feature of Dhadimago, used for recreational purposes. This figure is much higher in occasions like Eid (Feast of Breaking the Fast). For Eid celebrations this place stands out in Fuvahmulah history.
  • Neregando: A famous anchorage of Fuvahmulah and a traditional harbour. It is a landmark of the boat building industry of the island.


Located just after Dhadimago, this is one of the largest districts in Fuvahmulah. Apart from Dhadimago, the district also share borders with Hōdhado and Mādhado.

Many residents of Diguvāndo rely on white collar jobs for their income. Retail business is a main source of income as well. The most prominent feature of this district is the "Chas bin" (an area of wet land) associated with the Dhadimagi-Kilhi. Large amounts of taro fields can be found in the wet land area. Vast plantings of areca nut can be found in the district. Mango and breadfruit can be found in reasonable quantities. Almost every house in the district has a mango tree.

Places of interest
  • The Wathaniya communications antenna: Located in the Aruffanno Mago and Mohammed Jamaaluddin Naibu Thutthu Mago junction, it is the second tallest structure in the Maldives, along with the Dhiraagu Communications antenna on the island and in Gadhdhoo in G.Dh Atoll. all three structures stand 400 feet tall.
  • Foundation School: One of the pre-schools in Fuvahmulah.
  • Aruffanno: A traditional harbour (anchorage) of the island.
  • A significant part of the marsh land area associated with the Dhadimagi Kilhi.
  • Cricket Stadium: Located in the Aruffanno Magu, Sosan magu and Mohammed Jamaaluddin Naibu Thutthu Magu, it is the largest cricket ground in the Maldives.


Hōdhado is the smallest district in Fuvahmulah. During the late 20th century, the increase in population of the district led to pressure on land in the neighbouring areas. This led to a northern extension of the village, resulting in land from Dhadimago and Diguvando wards being claimed to the village. Though this has resulted in a change of the believed-to-be areas in a disputed state, no formal changes have been made and the actual area of the ward is still to be decided. Hōdhado is the first district in Fuvahmulah to have accepted Islam.[6] The smaller size of the village with fewer people during the time of conversion may be the main reason for the village being the first district to be converted. What is clear from historical sources is that smaller districts of Fuvahmulah converted first and the larger districts last. Hōdhado is a remarkable ward in Fuvahmulah. Historically, many residents of Hōdhado depended on fishing as the primary source of income, although today retail business along with white collar jobs have diminished the dependency on fishing. One of the traditional harbours of Fuvahmulah, "Anbule Athiri" is located within Hōdhado which explains the district's continued dependency on fishing.

Places of interest

  • Anbule Athiri: One of the traditional harbours of Fuvahmulah.
  • Naaibu Aboobakuru School: One of the four primary schools in Fuvahmulah.
  • Hanihari Miskiy: One of the oldest mosques in Fuvahmulah built during the earliest days of Islam in Fuvahmulah.
  • Hoadhadu Miskiy: One of the oldest mosques in Fuvahmulah built during the earliest days of Islam in Fuvahmulah.

Claimed places

  • The Havitta: An ancient ruin of possibly a Buddhist stupa. Due to the northerly extension of the village towards the end of the 20th century and settlement of the villagers of the ward in the area by time, today the Havitta is generally considered to be a part of this village though the Havitta is within the historical boundaries of the district of Dhadimago.


With changes over time, this is the smallest district in Fuvahmulah. Located in the center of the island, this district houses the strategically most important buildings on the island. This district shares borders with Diguvāndo, Hōdhado, Mālegan and Miskimmago.

Places of interest
  • The Dhiraagu communications antenna: along with the Wathaniya communications antenna on the island. Both structures stand 400 feet tall.
  • Secretariat of the Fuvahmulaku Atoll council: The highest administrative unit of the atoll as a whole.
  • Secretariat of the Island Council:(Diguvāndo, Maadhadu, Dhoodigan, Funaadu, Dhadimage, Hōdhado,): The headquarters of the island council appointed 3 members in each district as to serve the community of island residents.
  • 'Kedeyre Miskiy', one of the protected historical sites in the island.
  • Dhiraagu Operations Center, Fuvahmulah
  • Ideal School One of the leading pre-schools (Kindergarten) in Fuvahmulah
  • Ooredooo Experience Fuvahmulah
  • State Trading Organisation Fuvahmulaku Branch
  • Post office
  • Official Play ground
  • Gn. Atoll Education Center
  • Bank of Maldives Fuvahmulaku Branch
  • MNDF establishment in Fuvahmulah
  • Fuvahmulaku Police Station
  • Fuvahmulaku Youth Center
  • Fuvahmulaku Social Center
  • Fuvahmulaku Atoll Council
  • Mikalnews – Mikal News is a registered newspaper at Maldives, covering social, economic and political issues and latest news updates.


This village stretches along the island fringe facing the Northeast. With some of the most significant features of the island this district shares borders with Mādhado, Miskimmago, Funādo and Dūndigan.

Places of interest
  • Hukuru Miskih: One of the most significant mosques being the only Friday mosque on the island
  • Bandaara Kilhi: One of the two fresh water lakes on the island. The main lake in its true sense is located within this ward with about three-fourth of the whole lake along with its major areas centered within this ward.
  • Rasgefanno: Previously, the most famous anchorage of the island.
  • Maalegan Preschool: One of the preschools (Kindergarten) in Fuvahmulah.


The former Dashokubai village was merged with Miskiymago. This village has merged with neighboring Funādo on its southern end and Madhado on its northern end. The village shares borders with Maalegan ward towards the north-east of the village.

Places of interest
  • Gn. Atoll Education Center: The only secondary as well as Higher Secondary School in Fuvahmulah.
  • Heraha Mago: The transverse street which cuts across this village houses the Fire and Rescue Service Building, the local market and many of the businesses. Mānere anchorage can be found at the southern tip of the street. About three-fourths of the Heraha mago is within Miskiymago and the remaining one-fourth is within Maalegan ward to the north-east of the district.
  • Mānere: A historical harbour (anchorage) of Fuvahmulah. This anchorage is used in the NE monsoon season (Iruvai).
  • Bandaara Kilhi: One of the two fresh water lakes in Fuvahmulah.About one-fourth of the lake (a segmental part) is located in Miskiymago.
  • The local market: All agricultural products as well as traditional food varieties of Fuvahmulah can be bought here.
  • The Fire and Rescue Service Building


This is the southernmost and one of the largest wards in Fuvahmulah. This district houses a center of learning.

Places of interest
  • Bondo Kirigehe (Bodu Nikagas): Allegedly the oldest tree in Fuvahmulah.
  • Hafiz Ahmed School: One of the four primary schools in Fuvahmulah.
  • Diyarehifaando: The mouth of the island's lagoon in the past.
  • Ribaath: A historical shrine from the ancient past.
  • "Kalho akiri gando": A unique location of black pebbles which can be found in the beach areas of Funaadu and Dhoondigan.
  • Fuvahmulaku Airport: Airport of Fuvahmulah is situated in the areas of Funaadu and Dhoondigan.


This is the most populous district and by area the second largest division of the island. This village lies in the southeastern corner of the island. It has merged with Mālegan on its northern end. Being a center of learning as well as an important location for all islanders as it houses the island harbour, and a number of historical landmarks.

Places of interest
  • Vashoveyo: A famous historical location.
  • "Bilihifeyshe neru": One of the famous anchorages (traditional harbors) of Fuvahmulah.
  • "Kalho akiri gando": A unique location of black pebbles which can be found in the beach areas of Funaadu and Dhoondigan.
  • Fuvahmulaku School: One of the four primary schools in Fuvahmulah.
  • Fuvahmulaku Harbor: The harbor of Fuvahmulah.
  • Fuvahmulaku Airport: Airport of Fuvahmulah is situated in the areas of Dhoondigan and Funaadu.

Demography and communications

The high rate of fertility has resulted in overpopulation. With more than 12000 inhabitants, the availability of land for market gardening is steadily diminishing. The most updated population figure for the island is available on the Ministry of Atolls Development website, which states that as of March 2007, the island had a population of 6410 women and 5590 men, giving a total of 12000. This gives a sex ratio of 0.88.

Dhiraagu is the only landline telephone communication service provider on the island, as well as in the entire country. However, Ooredoo along with Dhiraagu provides mobile communication services on the island.

The Dhiraagu communications antenna, located in the premises of Dhiraagu Fuvahmulah Operations Center, stands 400 feet (121 meters) tall. It connects Gaafu Alif Atoll, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and Fuvahmulah to the rest of the nation.Apart from Dhiraagu, Focus Infocom Private Limited provides internet services on the island.


Formerly there were many bicycles on Fuvahmulah, an ideal mode of transportation on the flat, large island. Presently there are a large number of motorcycles. The construction of Fuvahmulah Harbour has led to a boost in the number of vehicles – notably motor cycles – on the island. This has increased road accidents, many of them fatal. The poorly constructed roads, have indirectly contributed to road accidents. Finivaa Magu, the main road running from north to south of the island, along with the other roads are not paved. The only partly paved road is the Mohamed Jamaaludeen Naibu Thutthu Magu. This road is still under construction. When completed this road will be the longest road on the island, running from the harbor and connecting all 8 districts.

An airstrip is functional on the SE side of the island since 11.11. 2011. Currently there two scheduled flights every day to Malé from Fuvahmulah and from Malé to Fuvahmulah Airport.


Little is known about the history of Fuvahmulah. All that remains are some landmarks of the historical past. These include a much damaged Buddhist stupa known as Fua Mulaku Havitta. Its actual shape has been lost because of the damage done by careless digging to find artifacts or for research purposes. The ruin is about 40 feet in height and it looks like a small hill. A smaller mound, about 15 feet in height, is located near the Havitta.

An ancient local poem says: "Havitta uhe haudahau, Redin taneke hedi ihau".(Thor Heyerdahl visited this island and wrote a book which is named 'Fua Mulaku' in its German edition.)

There is also the Vasho-Veyo, an ancient circular bath with stone steps. This stone pool reveals great craftsmanship in the cutting of Porites coral stone (hirigal) by the locals.

Among the monuments of the Islamic period, the most important is Gemmiskiy, a neat compound including a coral stone mosque, an ancient graveyard and a well. It is located on the northern end of the island. Gemmiskiy is said to be the oldest mosque in Fuvahmulah.

It has been said that the island was depopulated and resettled thrice in the last thousand years owing to lethal epidemics. The last time the survivors of the epidemic went to the neighboring Addu, Huvadhu and Haddhunmathi Atolls and stayed there for a few years.

During the secession of the Southern Atolls from the North (1959–1963), Fuvahmulah was a part of the Suvadive Islands. Nothing eventful happened during those years except that once a boat (Elizabeth Boyer) with soldiers from Malé sent by the central government tried to disembark unsuccessfully at Rasgefanno. The island people gathered at the beach and threw stones to the soldiers. The soldiers fired back, and one man of the island was shot in the head and died instantly. Two other islanders who were seriously wounded by gunshots were ferried by dōni the same day, to Gan, in Addu Atoll. The British, who were stationed in Gan sent them by air to Ceylon for treatment.

Natural phenomena

There is a broad sandy beach at the northernmost point of Fuvahmulah in the district of Dhadimago. It is locally known as "Thūndu" (In official Dhivehi "Thundi"). Its sands are formed by white small round pebbles, which are unusually smooth and shiny. This kind of pebbles are found in Fuvahmulah only in the Maldives and visitors to the island usually collect them as a memory of the island.

It is common for an annual phenomenon called Bissaaveli to form at the Thūndu. The Bissaaveli forms when part of the sand of the beach moves away from the shore towards the edge of the reef, thus creating a lagoon, enclosed by sand and the shore of the island. This natural event attracts hundreds – possibly thousands – of locals who love to go to watch it. When it is well-formed, the Bissaaveli is enclosed from all sides, creating a natural shallow swimming pool where locals like to swim.

Another natural phenomenon called Kalho-Akiri (meaning "Black Pebbles") occurs on the south-east shore of the island. This area only has black pebbles, quite unusual to the normal white coral sand beaches of the Maldives.

Every year, towards the end of the southwest monsoon season, flying fish (Hulhammaha) come to the northwestern shore of Fuvahmulah. Confused by the number of voracious tuna shoals in the water and by aggressive frigate birds hunting them from the air, the flying fish would end up flying close to the beach. They mostly end up in the area between Thoondu and Dhadimago fanno where this phenomenon is most common. Men, women and children like to go down to the reef to catch the flying fishes by hand in the midst of a joyful atmosphere. Large crowds will gather on the beaches for what the locals called "Hulhammaha Hifun".


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Maldives Fuvahmulah

Lat: -0.297879428 - Lng: 73.426513672