In August 1941, the netlayer HMS Guardian landed Royal Navy construction crews on Addu Atoll in the Maldives Islands to begin work on a secret naval base for Britain’s Eastern Fleet. Though in public British leaders continued to point to Singapore as the lynchpin of the Far Eastern defenses, they had already grown concerned that the “Malay Barrier” of Malaya, Sumatra and Java could not be held in the event of a Japanese attack.
The British Eastern Fleet had left most of its base facilities in Singapore, including drydocks and repair sheds. In the event of Singapore’s loss, it was to fall back on Trincomalee on Ceylon’s eastern coast. But Admiral James Somerville, the fleet commander, found the port inadequate and doubted that it could be defended from determined attack. He wanted an alternative base somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, which became known as “Port T.” Not openly stated, but understood, was that such a secret island base would also be secure from the prying eyes of Indian nationalists, all of whom were suspected of being in league with the Japanese during the paranoid days of late 1941.
Addu Atoll, also known as Seenu, is the southernmost island group in the Maldives. It consists of several large islands ringing a deep lagoon. There are several channels leading into the lagoon, with the best of these at the southern end of the atoll. The Royal Navy selected the southernmost island, Gan (pronounced "Yahn") for their airfield and began construction of three crushed-coral airstrips for the Fleet Air Arm. This was turned over to the Royal Air Force in 1957 and became “RAF Station Gan,” an airfield that would be used intermittently until 1971. The FAA airfield on Gan in theory could handle all aircraft in the British inventory, but it had short runways and larger bombers often crashed on landing.
While troops hacked down the jungle on Gan and prepared the airstrips, Catalina and Sunderland flying boats began operating from the jetties on the north shore of Gan. The airfield's most important facilities were the big oil tanks built on Gan and on Hitaddu Island on the western edge of the atoll. These would by necessity be visible from far out at sea, but the islands’ low elevation made this inevitable, no matter where they were placed.
The 1st Royal Marine Coast Defence Regiment provided the garrison troops, manning shore batteries and anti-aircraft guns on all six of the atoll’s major islands. To facilitate the defence, the important islands on the western edge of the atoll would eventually be linked by a light railway across causeways built up between the islands, but this was not operational until much later in the war. Except for the Gan Channel, the other openings were permanently closed by anti-submarine nets.
A pair of Australian refrigerator ships were requisitioned in Sydney, loaded with canned foods, several tons of American-made cigarettes and 5,200 gallons of rum, and stationed in the lagoon to re-supply British warships. These had Chinese crews and Australian civilian officers, and most of the work was handled by Maldivians hired from the local population.
Addu Atoll has since become a major tourist destination, but British personnel assigned there in 1942 despised the post. Morale appears to have been very low among the garrison, and ships’ crews considered it a hardship post. Forty miles south of the equator, the islands are very hot and extremely humid. Gan had no recreational facilities and the local women were strictly off-limits.
The Japanese were not aware of the base’s existence during the April 1942 carrier raids in the Indian Ocean, and Somerville’s fleet used it extensively. Later in the war, submarine reconnaissance established the base’s existence, but by this point the Imperial Navy had no designs for a large-scale offensive in the Indian Ocean. The German submarine U-183 did torpedo the tanker British Loyalty in March 1944, making an impressive long-range shot from outside the atoll through a gap in the anti-torpedo nets.
British naval base
The Royal Navy established a base ("Port T") - later RAF Gan from 1957 - on the island of Gan (Addu City) (pronounced “Gun”) in 1941, during World War II. During the Cold War it was used as an outpost.
The original naval base was established as a fall-back for the British Eastern Fleet. Despite public pronouncements to the contrary, the official view was that the main base at Singapore would be untenable if the Japanese made serious headway in Malaya and Java - which, in the event, is what happened in 1942. The intention had been to operate from Trincomalee, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Upon inspection, however, the naval commander-in-chief, Admiral James Somerville found the port inadequate, vulnerable to a determined attack and open to spying. An isolated island base with a safe, deep anchorage in a suitably strategic position was required, and Addu City met the requirements. Once available, its facilities were used extensively by the Fleet.
Royal Navy engineers landed in August 1941 from HMS Guardian to clear and construct airstrips on Gan for the Fleet Air Arm. In the interim, Catalina and Sunderland flying boats operated from jetties on the northern, sheltered side of Gan. Large oil tanks were built on Gan, and on Hitaddu Island on the western edge of the atoll; vital elements for a naval base. These were visible from a long distances at sea, but this was unavoidable, given the atoll's low profile.
Ship's supplies for the fleet were provided from a pair of Australian refrigerated ships, Changte and Taiping that included Attu in a number of bases that they serviced regularly. Three times these ships replenished forty or more ships of the Eastern Fleet. Several large Second Australian Imperial Force troop convoys also refueled at Addu on their way from Aden to Fremantle, Western Australia.
The six major islands were garrisoned by the 1st Royal Marine Coast Defense Regiment, manning shore batteries and anti-aircraft guns. To facilitate the defense, causeways were built connecting the western islands of Gan, Aboohéra, Maradhoo and Hithadhoo. And, much later in the war, they were linked by a light railway. Addu was an unpopular posting due to the hot, humid climate, lack of recreational facilities and lack of socializing with the local population.
The Japanese remained unaware of the base’s existence until their plans for expansion in south-east Asia had come to nothing, even during their carrier raids in the Indian Ocean in April 1942. Later in the war, submarine reconnaissance established the base’s existence. Despite openings into the lagoon being permanently closed by anti-submarine nets, the German submarine U-183 torpedoed the tanker British Loyalty in March 1944 (she had been previously torpedoed and sunk at Diego Suarez); it was an impressive long-range shot from outside the atoll through a gap in the anti-torpedo nets. Although seriously damaged, the tanker did not sink. She was not fully repaired but kept as a Ministry of War Transport Oil Fuel Storage Vessel. There was significant oil pollution after this incident and British personnel were used to clean the lagoon.
On 5 January 1946, British Loyalty was scuttled in a lagoon southeast of Hithadhoo Island in the Addu City. After some years of leaking oil, she has become a popular dive location and a haven for the local marine life.
In 1957, the naval base was transferred to the Royal Air Force. As RAF Station Gan, it remained in intermittent service until 1975, when British Forces withdrew.
Most of the employees who had experience working for the British military had good English fluency. When RAF Station Gan closed, they turned to the nascent tourism industry for employment. As a result, there was an influx of Addu people to Malé seeking employment in the nearby resorts and also looking for education to their children. Ex RAF Gan is now a tourist resort, an equator village, with the airstrip now being Gan International Airport.
The United Suvadive Republic (Dhivehi: އެކުވެރި ސުވާދީބު ޖުމްހޫރިއްޔާ) or Suvadive Islands was a short-lived breakaway nation in the remote Southern Atolls of the Maldive Islands, namely Addu Atoll, Huvadhu Atoll and Fuvahmulah that geographically make up the Suvadive archipelago.
The name of this nation was originally an ancient name for the three southernmost atolls of the Maldives. Suvadive (Dhivehi: ސުވާދީބު) is based on the ancient name for Huvadhu Atoll, which is by far the largest in the small southern atoll group if fact HuvadhuSuvadive atoll is the second largest atoll formation. Huvadhu Atoll was also called Suadou by Pyrard. Huvadhu atoll was marked as 'Suvadina' in Dutch colonial era Maps.
The Suvadive secession occurred within in the context of the struggle of the Maldives emerging as a modern nation, but still shackled by feudal and autocratic power structures. The alleged causes were the centralistic policies of the government in Malé and the recent independence of both neighboring countries, India and Ceylon. At that time the Maldives had remained a British protectorate. The Suvadives declared independence on 3 January 1959. They capitulated, rejoining the rest of the nation on 23 September 1963.
Speaking to press at the President’s Office, Nasheed said that after official discussions with the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), the parties agreed to jointly propose amendments to the Decentralisation Act, based on the results of the referendum, and list administrative constituencies by October 2017.
“When the islands are announced, there will be a major change to the largest atoll in the south, Addu Atoll” he said, “In my view, the results of the referendum showed very clearly that citizens of the atoll want to develop as a city. So we will designate Addu Atoll as one city island. Addu Atoll is an island with the districts Hithadhoo, Maradhoo-Feydhoo, Maradhoo, Hulhudhoo and Meedhoo.”
Instead of an atoll office, he continued, the southernmost atoll will have a municipality run by an elected municipal council.
With over 30,000 inhabitants, Addu Atoll is the second largest population centre in the country. However, as much as 60 percent of some islands currently reside in the capital Male’.
President Nasheed denied that the results and the low turnout was a failure of the government, as small islands rejected the government proposal for administrative consolidation with larger islands.
“In a democracy, if an election is seen as useless, there’s nothing I have to say about that,” he said.
Moreover, Nasheed argued that establishing a nationwide transport network was the government’s policy on population consolidation, as outlined in the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) manifesto, as opposed to “taking a population and settling them in another island.”
While the referendum revealed that small islands did not want to “lose their identity”, Nasheed said that a secret ballot was needed to determine the views of the electorate as he routinely received petitions from islanders requesting relocation.
According to official results, of 26,676 people who participated in the referendum, 16,695 voted in favour of the proposal while 8,402 voted against it.
However, of the six islands in Addu Atoll where voting took place, citizens of Hithadhoo, Maradhoo, Maradhoo-Feydhoo, Feydhoo, meedhoo and Hulhudhoo endorsed the proposal, while islanders of Feydhoo and Meedhoo rejected it.
The first and only mayor of the city is Abdulla Sodiq, who was elected in February 2011 to a three-year term and re-elected in February 2014 to another three-year term.Hithadhoo Population: 15,146
Maradhoo Population: 5,203
Feydhoo Population: 6,502
Hulhumeedhoo Population: 6,492
Addu City: Population: 32,062
Hithadhoo (Dhivehi: ހިތަދޫ) is a district of Addu City, in the Maldives. Hithadhoo is the main administrative district of Addu City, with many of the administrative buildings in this district. The town is situated on the island of the same name, the westernmost of Seenu (Addu). In terms of population count, Hithadhoo is home to the largest population in Addu City.
The part of the island south of the town is lushly vegetated with palms and shrubs, whilst the northern end of the island consists of a partially stony, unreal scrubland, which can be explored only on narrow trails. Hithadhoo Town is marked by dusty roads, narrow lanes, leaning houses, dense vegetation and a paved main road (Bon'do Maga'). Island traffic is generally quite colorful, particularly when hundreds of island school children dressed in a multitude of differently colored school uniforms are queuing up for the bus.
Hithadhoo has a population of some 18,000 residents. The local dialect of Dhivehi, Addu bas, is spoken by most of the people who live here. Addu Bas is closely related to dialects spoken on nearby atolls. It is also the second most spoken dialect in the whole Maldives.
Hithadhoo has a number of educational institutions; three kindergartens (nursery schools), three primary and two secondary schools as well as a Maldives National University Campus. Most Hithadhoo residents complete their education up to Ordinary Level and Advanced level on the island itself, whilst a few opt to continue their studies in Malé or abroad. A certain number of youngsters from neighbouring islands, mainly from Maradhoo, Maradhoo-Feydhoo, and Feydhoo attend Sharafuddin School or Hithadhoo School, both secondary schools on Hithadhoo, to complete their O-level studies. Several students from other atolls like Fuvahmulah and Huvadhu Atoll also attend secondary schools on Hithadhoo in order to have a better education than can be had on their home islands.
The government has provided the residents with a hospital. This hospital has a regional function and provides around-the-clock care. Most residents of neighbouring islands visit Hithadhoo Regional Hospital to receive treatment for their ailments. People from atolls and islands further afield, such as Fuvammulah and Huvadhu Atoll also occasionally visit to receive medical treatment, although most opt for hospitals in the Southern Indian state of Kerala which is relatively close by. Apart from this, there are some private clinics like Eye Care Clinic and IMDC (International Medical and Diagnostic Center).
Gan (Div: ގަން) is the southernmost island of Addu Atoll, as well as the southernmost island of the Maldives. It is relatively large by Maldive standards.
Gan Island is the second largest island of the atoll, after Hithadhoo, and measures 2.2561 square kilometres (0.87 sq mi) in area. Gan Island was formerly inhabited, but its inhabitants were moved to neighboring islands after the British naval and airbase was built. It has been the site of continuous human habitation since very ancient times. There were large cultivated fields of yams, manioc, and coconut trees on this island. The origin of the word "Gan" is a component of the Sanskrit word "Grama", meaning "village" — a fact verified by linguist Dr. Robert C. Hennings at the international institute of Sydney.
Gan Island now boasts a hotel catering to tourists, and is connected by causeways to the neighboring islands of Feydhoo, Maradhoo, and Hithadhoo. In 1922, H. C. P. Bell visited this island and investigated the ancient Buddhist ruins there. These included the foundations of a temple (vihara) and a mound or low hill which was a very ruined stupa. Gan's ruins were the remains of the southernmost Buddhist site of the Maldives. The mound, as well as the foundations of the nearby vihara, disappeared after the airport was built. The first airport of the Maldives was built on Gan.
The Maldivian ethnic identity is a blend of cultures, reflecting the peoples who settled on the islands, reinforced by religion and language. The earliest settlers were probably from southern India, Arabia, and southeast Asia. There is a huge influence of South, South West African and Asian cultures in the Maldives. As of 2010, population of Addu City was estimated to be around 35,000.
The dialect spoken in this atoll (Addu bas) is quite different from the official form of the Dhivehi language. It has some affinities with the language of Fua Mulaku Mulaku bas.
Traditionally all educated islanders from the three different atolls of the south adopted the Addu language as lingua franca. Hence, when for example an islander of Huvadhu met with another from Fua Mulaku, they would use the Addu bas to talk to each other. Addu bas is the most widespread and famous dialect in the southern region of Maldives.
The secessionist government of the United Suvadive Republic (Suvadives) however, used the Male' language in its official correspondence.
Addu has some of the earliest settlements in the Maldives, The Addu society has very unique culture and linguisitsc compared to all other parts of Maldives, It was distinguished by strong social divisions. It had a strong hierarchical system. Traditionally, the upper classes—with names like Don Seedi, Don Kaloa, Fulhu, Manik, and Didi—were close friends and relatives of the sultan and his royal family. Yet, even among these families, there were marked differences. Well into the 20th century, HCP Bell noted that "a Didi marrying a Maniku lady raises her to his own rank; but the children of a Maniku father and Didi mother are, strictly speaking, not entitled to the appellation Didi".
Years ago, it was unacceptable to eat with a member of an inferior class, and people of a lower class mixing with a superior only sat on a low stool. Now these distinctions are not acceptable in the society. Indeed, nowadays the terms Maniku and Didi are sometimes used as nicknames. Today, advancement is based more on merit than birth.
The number of islands a person leases, or the number of boats they own, was also crucial to their social standing during the sultanates' era. The boat owner took about half the day's catch, while the skipper (keyolhu) earned about one-fifth. The rest was divided equally among the fishermen. The men who make the boats (Maavadi meehaa) were respected craftsmen; the fishermen's lives, and thus the well-being of the community, depended upon their skill. The medicine men (Hakeem) stood on the same social rung. Skilled tradesmen, like blacksmiths and jewelers, also commanded a great deal of respect. At the bottom of the social heap was the toddy-tapper (Raaveria) who looked after the coconuts and tapped sap for toddy and syrup.
The sharp division of labor not only reflects the exigencies of island life, but the injunctions of traditional Islam. Yet despite the clear divisions between rich and poor, there was no poverty. The island community and the extended family act as a safety net for its members. No one sleeps in the streets, or goes to bed hungry. In this sense, being a small atoll in a small nation has its blessings, for everyone knows each other and is willing to lend a hand. Alms-giving remains one of the fundamental tenets of Islam, and so in the atoll society.
The people of the Addu City are unique in the Maldives, not only because they speak in an entirely different language, but also because of the educational and intellectual background they derived from their ancestors. It is a small, kindred society unified by a common history, the language, and the Islamic faith.
Adduans have been able to blend tradition and modernity. All Adduans have open access to primary and secondary education. Adduans also play a significant role in the economic life of the Maldives, which is mainly based on the capital island of Malé.
Adduans are a friendly, hospitable and peace-loving people, at the same time reserved and in control of their emotions. In Addu old customs and Islamic traditions are respected, while allowing the necessary changes in lifestyle to be compatible with modern development.
The Adduans are dedicated to improving the life of the people on the islands of Addu City. Young people are encouraged to strive for higher education, when they finish the secondary education in the atoll they are sent to Malé or overseas for higher studies, and to make them professionals in their desired fields. They return to the Maldives to give service to the country. Many of them are compelled to stay in Malé due to lack of job opportunities in their homeland.
The White tern (Gygis alba) locally known as Dhondheeni(ދޮންދީނި), sometimes called as Kandhuvalu dhooni is a small seabird traditionally only confined to the Addu Atoll, the southern uttermost atoll in the Maldives.
The White tern is one of the most beautiful and interesting resident birds found in the Maldives. It has its body white with black eye-ring and black bill with blue at the base. Legs and feet are also blue, with yellow to webs. In recent decades the white tern has been proudly used as a symbol by the people of Addu Atoll to represent their atoll in the Maldives.
The White tern primarily feed on smaller fish which it catches by plunge diving down on the surface, but it does not submerge fully. It is a long-lived bird, having been recorded living for 18 years.
This small sea bird is well known for laying a single speckled egg on exposed thin branches in a small joint or depression without a nest. The thin branches it chooses is act of predator-avoidance behavior, crows (Corvus splendens maledivicus) and even rats avoid sitting or climbing small branches. However, terns are vulnerable to strong winds and the chicks have sophisticated sharp clawed feet to cling on fragile branches.
This is the local name for the broad channel between Huvadu Atoll and Addu Atoll. The old French maps called it 'Courant d'Addoue'.
This is the 'second city' of the Maldives, and the resorts here is the best base from which to visit traditional Maldivian island communities. The Addu people are fiercely independent, speak differently from folk in the capital and at one time even tried to secede from the republic.
The biggest influence on Addu's modern history has been the British bases, first established on the island of Gan during WWII, as part of the Indian Ocean defences. In 1956, the British developed a Royal Air Force airfield as a strategic Cold War outpost. The station had around 600 permanent personnel, with up to 3000 during periods of peak activity. They built a causeway connecting Feydhoo, Maradhoo and Hithadhoo islands, and employed most of the local men. In 1976 the British pulled out, but many of their employees, who spoke good English and had experience working for westerners, were well qualified for jobs in the soon-to-be-booming tourist industry.
Tourist development in Addu itself has been slow to start, but a resort has been established in the old RAF buildings on Gan and there are now reliable connections to the capital via Maldivian, Mega Maldives and Flyme. The Ocean Reef Resort is not a typical Maldives tropical paradise resort island, but the old military base is a unique feature. Gan is linked by causeways to the adjacent islands, and it's easy and pleasant to get around them by bicycle, giving unmatched opportunities to visit the local villages and see village life. There are two island resorts in Addu City. Shangril'a Vilingili Maldives Resort and Canareef Addu.
Hankede Island has been proposed as a location for a new resort. However, for years this plan has been halted by the government even after interests from several foreign developers.
Tourism development at Addu City, after the presidential elections in 2008 there is a free opportunity to invest in the tourism industry.
The fourth president of Maldives “Mohamed Nasheed” gives the possibility for the Addu citizens, foreign investors to start at "local" Islands guesthouses, hotels, resorts, dive,- & watersport centers and other tourism related companies at Addu City.
Addu city will be a “non typical” Maldivian tourist place where tourists can spend their time in a local environment and can explore the Maldivian way of living. The first guesthouse “Stellar Maradhoo” start their opening in 2013, also the first Diving Center “Aquaventure” 1 and the first international tourists "Dive Center Time to Dive from Belgium" 2 those got accommodated at a local island arrived in May 2013, Maradhoo.
Addu City "local Islands" is open for tourism and there are new tourism investment projects going on, to develops "local" Addu City in a new holiday destination in the Maldives.
Gan International Airport will be open in 2013 for International flights.
The 17th SAARC summit was hosted by Addu City and neighboring Fuvahmulah in November 2011. The preparations for the summit brought numerous developments to the city, including the building of a convention centre, development of roads and public places, renovation of Gan International Airport and the regional hospital, more job opportunities among many others.
Equatorial Convention Centre (ECC) is a convention centre which is located in Hithadhoo, Addu City of Maldives. It was specially build for the seventeenth SAARC summit which was held in November 2011 in Addu City and nearby Fuvahmulah island. ECC was formally opened by the President of the Maldives H.E Mohamed Nasheed on 10 November 2011.
The names of the halls and rooms in the convention centre have been named after historical and cultural places and aspects of Addu and the atolls of the Maldives with the main convention hall called 'Bodu Kiba'.
The public lobby has been named ‘Addu Thalhanmathi’ with ‘Velaanaa Fendaa’, ‘Eggamu Fendaa’, ‘Kakaa Fendaa’ and ‘Athiree Fendaa’ declared as names for the rooms of the convention centre. ‘Rasruku Kibaa’ is the name of the main banquet hall.
The two-storey convention centre, which has been built for the SAARC Summit with an Rf150 million budget, has an administrative office named ‘Mulee Kotari’, a Business Centre called ‘Badikoshee Kotari’ and a Meeting Room named ‘Dhandikoshee’.
The delegation offices have been named after the atolls of the Maldives; ‘Thiladhunmathi Kotari’, Faadhippolhu Kotari’, ‘Ihavandhippolhu Kotari’, ‘Hadhunmathi Kotari’, ‘Huvadhoo Kotari’, ‘Kolhumadulu Kotari’, ‘Nilandhe Kotari’ and ‘Maalhosmadulu Kotari’.
Rooms located on the first floor include the ‘Dhondhanbu Kibaa’ and ‘Jaafaanu Kibaa’ Function Rooms. The Seminar Rooms located on the first floor have been named as ‘Mas’udi Kotari’, ‘Pyrad Kotari’, ‘Abu’l Barakat Kotari’, ‘Batuta Kotari’, ‘Kalhuoh Fummi Kotari’, ‘Thirnaa Kotari, ‘Jaliyaa Kotari’ and ‘Kalhihaara Kotari’.
The 16-kilometre (9.9 mi) Addu Link Road causeway is the second longest paved causeway in the Maldives. It joins Hithadhoo, Maradhoo, Maradhoo-feydhoo, Feydhoo, and Gan.
The Addu Link Road was the site of the second longest banner ever to be displayed in the Maldives.
Since its construction, a number of fatal accidents have occurred on the Addu Link Road, which local news sources have ascribed to high speeds and reckless driving. Addu City is connected via ferry from Hulhumeedhoo ward to Feydhoo.
Gan International Airport is the airport serving Addu City, located on the island of Gan nearby. First built by the British Royal Navy, and transferred to the Royal Air Force as RAF Gan, the Gan International Airport was originally a military airbase built during World War II and commissioned until the 1970s. The United Kingdom transferred ownership to the government of the Maldives, and it was converted for use as a domestic airport. Recently the airport was upgraded to international standards in preparation for international flights expected with the opening of tourist resorts in the area. The airport was privatised under a 30-year contract signed in June 2010. A new VVIP lounge also has been build for the SAARC summit.