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Administrative divisions of the Maldives

Each administrative atoll is marked, along with the Full view of the map
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Maldives

The Administrative Divisions of the Maldives refers to the various units of government that provide local government services in the Maldives. According to the Decentralization Act 2010, the administrative divisions of the Maldives would consist of atolls, islands, and cities; each administered by their own local council, under the basic terms of home rule. Geographically, the Maldives are formed by a number of natural atolls plus a few islands and isolated reefs which form a pattern from North to South. Administratively, there are currently 189 islands, 19 atolls and 2 cities in the Maldives.


  • Background 1
    • During the Gayyoom Regime 1.1
    • Seven Provinces 1.2
    • Decentralization 1.3
      • National Offices 1.3.1
    • Local Council Election 2011 1.4
  • Divisions 2
    • City 2.1
    • Atoll 2.2
    • Island 2.3
  • Codes and Names of the Administrative Divisions 3
  • First-level administrative Divisions of Maldives 4
    • Atolls 4.1
    • Cities 4.2
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


During the Gayyoom Regime

During the regime of Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, the administrative divisions consisted of 20 administrative atolls, all controlled by the central government in Male'. Each atoll was headed by an atoll chief, but they were heavily criticized by locals for being heavily under the influence of the central government and acting rather as spokespersons than chiefs.

Seven Provinces

In 2008, in an attempt of decentralization, the Nasheed government divided the country into seven provinces. This maneuver was the first time that governing power has been moved away from the capital Male' since 1117 A.D. However, the bill submitted by the government to decentralize the country according to this system was rejected by the opposition-majority parliament, who amended the bill, restricting decentralization as seven provinces. The final bill that was passed by the parliament and ultimately ratified by the president, saw the decentralization of the country as 21 constituencies.
The seven provinces were:-

The seven provinces closely correspond to the historic divisions of Uthuru Boduthiladhunmathi. Dhekunu Boduthiladhunmathi, Uthuru Medhu-Raajje, Medhu-Raajje, Dhekunu Medhu-Raajje, Huvadhu (or Uthuru Suvadinmathi) and Addumulah (or Dhekunu Suvadinmathi).


On October 15, 2010, the government released a finalized list of the administrative constituencies established under the Decentralization Act. It listed 184 administrative constituencies. Out of these constituencies:

  • 2 constituencies were declared “cities”, as according to the criteria for determining cities in this act. These two constituencies were Male’ and Seenu Atoll. After a referendum among the people, Seenu Atoll was renamed "Addu City”. Each city would be served by a city council.
  • 181 constituencies were declared “islands”, as according to the criteria for determining islands in this act. These islands are grouped together into 18 atolls. Each atoll shall be served by an atoll council, under which each island has its own island council.
  • 1 constituency, Fuvahmulah, was declared an “atoll”, and was split into 8 wards at "island" constituency level. Each ward will have its own island council, who shall be governed by an atoll council. Fuvahmulah serves as the country’s 19th atoll.

Therefore, the final organization of the administrative divisions are as below:

  • 2 cities
  • 189 islands
  • 19 atolls

National Offices

Although the earlier provincial decentralization was rejected by Parliament, President Nasheed reinstated the concept through “National Administrations”. The National Administrations of Maldives were in the same divisions as the earlier provinces, and the previous province offices were reinstated as the office of that National Administration, to which the atoll councils reported to accordingly. The National Administrations acted as an extension of the central government in Male’, for the convenience of dealing with regional affairs. The National Administrations operated under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The seven National Administrations were:-

  • Upper North National Administration
  • North National Administration
  • North Central National Administration
  • Central National Administration
  • South Central National Administration
  • Upper South National Administration
  • South National Administration

Each administration was headed by a state minister assigned by the president.

All 7 National Offices were abolished by the Waheed administration on 24 April 2012.[1]

Local Council Election 2011

On 5 February 2011, the country's first ever Local council elections were held to elect 188 island councils, 19 atoll councils and 2 city councils. The island of Felivaru, in Lhaviyani Atoll did not participate in the election, since being a newly declared inhabited island, did not have any person registered as a citizen of the island. As of May 2013, the island council election for Felivaru has yet to take place.


The first-level divisions are cities and atolls.


A city is an inhabited area with a population of 25,000+. The criteria also includes a certain level of economic development and facilities available. A city has a “city council” which governs over the affairs of the city, and keeps communication with the central government. A city will not be included within an administrative atoll. A city has further subdivisions called “wards” or “districts”. A city council will also govern over any uninhabited islands or resort islands within its designated area. There are two cities in Maldives. They are Male’ and Addu.


The administrative definition of an “atoll” differs from the actual meaning of the word 'atoll'. While naturally, an “atoll” refers to a ring of islands, an “atoll” in the administrative sense, refers to a group of “island” class constituencies, not necessarily within the requirements of a natural atoll. While the majority of administrative atolls are indeed natural atolls, there are exceptions. Each administrative atoll has an “atoll council” which monitors the work of the “island councils” in the atoll, and keep communications with the central government. An atoll council also governs all uninhabited islands and resort islands in their area. There are 19 atolls in Maldives.


The administrative definition of an “island” differs from the actual meaning of the word 'island'. While naturally, an "island” refers to a land-mass surrounded by water, an “island” in the administrative sense, refers to a specified inhabited area within an administrative atoll, which is governed over by an “island council”. While the majority of “island” class constituencies are indeed natural islands, there are 8 constituencies at “island” class, that are not naturally islands. (The 8 wards of Fuvahmulah Island are administratively considered “islands”) There are 189 such islands, each with its own island council. (Except for Felivaru, Lhaviyani Atoll)

Codes and Names of the Administrative Divisions

Every first-level administrative division of the Maldives have the following:

  1. An official name, for example Thiladhunmathi Uthuruburi (meaning Thiladhunmathi North).
    This corresponds to the geographical Maldivian name of the Atoll.
  2. A Maldivian code letter, for example: Haa Alifu. When there are two letters, the second stands either for "North" (Alifu) or for "South" (Dhaalu).
    This code was adopted for convenience. It began in order to facilitate radio communication between the atolls and the central administration. As there are certain islands in different atolls that have the same name, for administrative purposes this code is quoted before the name of the island: for example, Baa Funadhoo, Kaafu Funadhoo, Gaafu-Alifu Funadhoo.This code denomination has been very much misused by foreigners and tourists who do not understand the proper use of these names, and the true Maldivian names have often been ignored in publications for tourists. Maldivians may use the letter code name in colloquial conversation, but in serious geographic, historical or cultural writings, the true geographical name always takes precedence.
  1. A Latin code letter, for example: ('A’).
    The Latin code letter is normally used in boat registration plates. The letter stands for the atoll and the number for the island.

Each atoll has a capital island. All islands of every atoll have their own official name. All cities have an official name, and names for their subdivisions. They also have a latin code letter assigned to them.

Traditionally, Maldivians call the atolls ending in '-madulu' or '-mathi' by their name without adding the word 'Atoll' at the end. For example, it is correct to write simply Kolhumadulu, without adding the word 'Atholhu' or 'Atoll'. This is also the case in the atoll known as Faadhippolhu as well as the small detached atoll of Fuvahmulah.

First-level administrative Divisions of Maldives


Latin Letter Code Abbr. Local letter Code Name Official Name Capital Population
(2006 census)
A HA ހއ Haa Alif Thiladhunmathi Uthuruburi Didhdhoo 13,495
B HDh ހދ Haa Dhaalu Thiladhunmathi Dhekunuburi Kulhudhuffushi 16,237
C Sh ށ Shaviyani Miladhunmadulu Uthuruburi Funadhoo 11,940
D N ނ Noonu Miladhunmadulu Dhekunuburi Manadhoo 10,015
E R ރ Raa Maalhosmadulu Uthuruburi U'ngoofaaru 14,756
F B ބ Baa Maalhosmadulu Dhekunuburi Eydhafushi 9,578
G Lh ޅ Lhaviyani Faadhippolhu Naifaru 9,190
H K ކ Kaafu Malé Atholhu Thuludhoo 839
U AA އއ Alif Alif Ari Atholhu Uthuruburi Rasdhoo 5,776
I ADh އދ Alif Dhaal Ari Atholhu Dhekunuburi Mahibadhoo 8,379
J V ވ Vaavu Felidhu Atholhu Felidhoo 1,606
K M މ Meemu Mulak Atholhu Muli 4,710
L F ފ Faafu Nilandhe Atholhu Uthuruburi Nilandhoo 3,765
M Dh ދ Dhaalu Nilandhe Atholhu Dhekunuburi Kudahuvadhoo 4,967
N Th ތ Thaa Kolhumadulu Veymandoo 8,493
O L ލ Laamu Haddhunmathi Fonadhoo 11,990
P GA ގއ Gaafu Alif Huvadhu Atholhu Uthuruburi Villingili 8,262
Q GDh ގދ Gaafu Dhaalu Huvadhu Atholhu Dhekunuburi Thinadhoo 11,013
R Gn ޏ Gnaviyani Fuvahmulah Fuvahmulah 7,636


Latin Letter Code Abbr. Local letter Code Name Official Name Capital Population
(2006 census)
T - - Malé Malé City Malé 103,693
S S ސ Seenu/Addu Addu City Hithadhoo 18,026

See also


  1. ^ HaveeruOnline news article
  • Muhammadu Ibrahim Lutfee. Divehiraajjege Jōgrafīge Vanavaru. G.Sōsanī. Malé 1999.
  • Hasan A. Maniku. The Islands of Maldives. Novelty. Male 1983.
  • Hasan A. Maniku. Changes in the Topography of the Maldives. Novelty. Male 1990.

External links

  • statoid site
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