A small atoll in comparison to other atolls, Lhaviyani Atoll is also known as Faadhippolhu. It is 35 kilometers long and 37 kilometers wide and lies 120 kilometers north of Male’. The atoll is comprised of about 50 islands out of which five are inhabited. Most of the islands in the atoll are large and densely vegetated and usually they are all situated on the outer rim of the atoll.
The first resort in the atoll opened in 1988 and remained the only one in the atoll until the end of 1998. The atoll is well known for its diving. The ,˜boatyard’, for instance offers divers the unique opportunity of enjoying two wrecks in one dive. Lhaviyani Atoll is home to about 8,000 people. Almost half of the population lives on the island of Naifaru, the atoll capital. Except for Hinnavaru and Naifaru the other villages are sparsely populated.
The main occupation of the people of the atoll is fishing and even today they are renowned fishermen. It is no wonder that the Felivaru Tuna Canning Factory, the only canning factory in the country is located in the atoll. The factory now produces about 90,000 tonnes of canned tuna per year and employs about 2000 staff.
All fish used for canning, is caught using the pole and line method, thus encouraging a sustainable, environment friendly fishing industry. The island of Maafilaafushi, on the northern rim of the atoll, is being resettled with encouragement from the government. Although it is only a small population that is resident on the island so far, the government has already provided them with important infrastructure such as a school, health centre and mosque.