Country Listing

Maldives Table of Contents


Transportation and Communications

Maldives has two airports with permanent-surface runways more than 2,440 meters long, one located adjacent to Male on Hulele Island, known as Male International Airport, and the other on Gan Island in the southernmost Addu Atoll, which is scheduled to become an international airport. Since 1981, after the runway was widened and expanded, the airport on Hulele has been able to handle direct charter flights from Europe. The airport on Gan was used only for domestic traffic. Two additional domestic airports cater to foreign tourists. One on Kadu Island in Haddummati Atoll opened in 1986, and the other on Hanimadu Island in South Tiladummati Atoll opened in 1990. A further domestic airport on Kodedu Island was scheduled to open in 1994.

In 1974 the government created Air Maldives, which had one eighteen-seat airplane. In the early 1990s, Air Maldives flew between Hulele and Gan three days a week, and Kadu twice a week. A twenty-seat seaplane operated by Inter Atoll Air also flew scheduled and chartered flights between Hulele and many of the resorts. In addition, Hummingbird Helicopters (Maldives) and Seagull Airways each operated four helicopters for interisland flights. Another firm, Maldives Air Services, coordinated all air services on the ground.

Maldives has an active merchant shipping fleet used for import and export purposes, including ten cargo vessels, one container ship, and one oil tanker. The government-owned Maldives National Ship Management, Ltd. is the largest of several Maldivian shipping firms.

Male, the only port that can handle international traffic, has been improved by the First Male Port Development Project completed in late 1992. The Second Male Port Development Project, partly financed by a loan from the Asian Development Bank, began in late 1993 and is scheduled for completion in 1996.

The fishing dhoni is the traditional all-purpose vessel in Maldives. Although dhonis have sails, most are also engine-powered. Dhonis are used mainly within the sheltered waters of each atoll. Travel through the open sea from one atoll to another is usually by vedis, larger, squareshaped wooden cargo boats.

The primary form of road traffic in Maldives is the bicycle. Motorcycles are the most common form of motor vehicles, of which 4,026 were registered in 1990. Passenger cars on Male are primarily status symbols for the Maldivian elite; however, the larger inhabited islands and resort islands have limited taxi services for transporting people to and from wharves and airfields. In 1992 there were 691 registered passenger cars, and 379 trucks and tractors.

Modern communications are minimal in Maldives. Most people use citizen-band radios on the islands and in boats (see Media , this ch.). Telephone service between Male and the islands is limited. However, most of the resort islands can be contacted directly by telephone, and administrative atoll offices are linked both to Male and each other by radio-telephone. Modernization efforts of the government have resulted in a steady increase in the number of telephones. The 1984 number of 1,060 telephones increased in 1992 to 2,804. There is good international telephone service through a satellite ground station in Male.

Data as of August 1994