The Maldives is world famous for its tourism industry and the pantheon of wealthy tourist properties – from conventional enclave resort tourism and nearly five decades to the nascent and burgeoning local tourism which has given rise to a multitude of tourist homes. Colorful hosts on various residential islands and even safaris and cruises – the country has something to offer all avid travelers.

Hotel resorts and guesthouse islands are often advertised, marketed and discussed at various travel and trade fairs, on online booking platforms and even at several travel and tourism related conferences.

However, less is said about the island nation’s capital, Male ‘City.

Yes! Male City is the most populous city in the Republic of Maldives and the island is believed to have a population of over 250,000, while it is also considered one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

The idyllic and peaceful lifestyle of the residential islands of the Maldives is non-existent in this bustling “metropolis” of a city. Loud vehicles passing through the city, busy people going to places for their important tasks, and an overall noisy environment make this island a place far removed from all other islands.

However, the city of Male is also one of the most historic and economically important islands in the country.

The urban area is approximately 1.95 square kilometers while the metropolitan area (which encompasses both Hulhule Airport Island ‘and the satellite town of Hulhumale’) covers 9.27 square kilometers. The city of Male is also the most urbanized island in all of the Maldives with roads laden with bricks and asphalt running the length of the island while the residential area is mostly filled with tall apartment buildings stacked side by side. from others – again a sight comparatively unseen in other islands in the country.

Historical significance

Historically, it is noted that Malé was initially a large sandbank where fishermen from the neighboring island of Giraavaru would cut their fish and release the giblets from their fresh catch. As such, due to the large amount of offal and tuna blood, the waters around the sandbar looked like a large pool of blood – which translates to “maa ley gandeh” – while “maa” is derived from the Sanskrit word “maha” meaning large and “ley” meaning blood.

Economic importance

The capital of the Maldives has several tourist attractions which are often the most visited sites by tourists from island to island. Some of these iconic places include the Islamic Center; which holds both cultural, religious and historical values, the Sultan’s Park; which is one of the oldest public parks although it has undergone a vigorous metamorphosis over the years, the Friday Mosque; considered to be one of the oldest mosques which still bears the traditional limestone carvings on its walls, the National Museum; the portal to the history of the Maldives, Bandaara Koshi; the military accommodation and bunker site which is engraved in the pages of Maldivian history due to the insurrectional attack of November 3, 1988 carried out by the Tamil Tigers which left several victims among the Maldivian army.

Photo taken during the renovation of Sultan Park

Besides these historical monuments, the capital is also home to the country’s largest and busiest commercial port, while the island is next to the country’s most important airport.

The modern city of Male

The island nation marked one of its most significant achievements in 2018 when the country’s first water bridge connecting the city of Male to Hulhule ‘and Hulhumale’ officially opened for public transport.

Prior to the opening of the large bridge structure, the roads connecting the structure were improved by removing aging brick blocks and being replaced with asphalt. The asphalt paved areas of the city of Malé have since been labeled “Male ‘City Ring Road”.

SInaMale Bridge

Meanwhile, in recent years, the island nation’s capital has observed the opening of several public parks in various important locations – such as the most recent addition to the Sinamale Bridge access point in Male – where previously a helipad operated along its entire length.

City hotels

Male ‘City is home to several upscale hotels catering to the needs of travelers and tourists – frugal or luxury.

The island nation’s capital is home to top hotels including Samann Grand, The Somerset Hotel, The Beehive, Mookai Hotel, Unima Grand, and the coveted Jen Maldives Male of Shangri-La, among others.

Jen Hotel

Guests looking for premier accommodation experiences with included dining options as well as recreational facilities will have the opportunity to choose from these city hotels during their stay in Male.