How many countries have capital cities that are densely populated islands, accessible mainly by ferry or sea planes? Maldives is probably the only one. Its capital city of Malé, is a vibrant economic and administrative center and a transportation hub for many going to luxury resorts in other atolls, boarding tenders for live-aboard dive yachts, or commuting to and from the international airport, situated on nearby Hulhumalé island.
Maldives is not only Asia’s smallest country, but the most geographically dispersed one in the world, covering an area of some 35,000 square miles. Only about 1% of that area is land, in the form of a chain of atolls that runs from north to south, in the Indian Ocean (specifically the Laccadive Sea), just off the southwestern coast of India. Malé is just one island of almost 1,200, scattered among 26 atolls and it also accounts for one-third (roughly 100,000) of the entire population of the country.