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The capital city, Malé, is the first place you would get to see on this archipelago. Formerly known as the Sultan's Island, it covers close to 2 sq km, and houses about 75,000 people, or almost a third of the total population of Maldives. Apart from being the seat of government and the chief commercial centre, Malé has some historical and religious landmarks to see. In the midst of concrete structures housing residential complexes and commercial joints, Malé still presents a clean and green environment. Shops, offices and high-rise buildings flank the main streets. Rows of trees line the streets on either side, giving arched shades overhead. Malé has no beaches, but seawalls girdle it on all sides.

Nonetheless, you might want to spend a cool evening jogging along an artificial beach on the edge of the breakwater that runs along to the harbour. hub of retail and wholesale trading is the old bazaar area. With buyers and sellers thronging here in large numbers and the lanes being very narrow, it is extremely difficult for vehicles to navigate. The fish market, as also the local market, is located at the northern waterfront, and there's a new harbour in the southwest. Clean and well-kept, the fish market begins to get busy by late afternoon as the fishermen sail home with their catch. You will find the fruit and vegetable market as well as the firewood market teeming with traders and islanders from the outer atolls. Or you may just relax at one of many small parks sprinkled across the capital island.

 

The second best city of Maldives, Seenu has a resort from where you could take off to visit traditional Maldivian communities on nearby islands. The inhabitants, Addu people, speak a tongue different from that of the capital city. Their history and culture largely exhibits British influence. The British first set up a strategic defence base on the island of Gan during the Second World War. In the days of the Cold War era, they developed this into the Royal Air Force base in 1956. The British, with the help of the

natives, also constructed a causeway connecting the islands of Feydhoo, Hithadhoo and Maradhoo. Although the British pulled out of the island in 1976, many English-speaking employees who remained took up jobs in the gradually booming tourist industry. The RAF buildings on Gan now house a resort that connects to the capital in an Air Maldives jet. The Ocean Reef Resort, with its unique military base ambience, stands apart from the typical Maldivian island resort. There are causeways linking Gan with the nearby islands. You could simply use a bicycle to get around them and see village life in the locality.

 

 
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