Giraavaru (Kaafu Atoll)

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Location Southwestern fringe of the atoll
Archipelago Kaafu Atoll
Length .4 km (0.25 mi)
Width .25 km (0.155 mi)
See also Giraavaru people

Giraavaru is an island of Malé Atoll (the administrative Kaafu Atoll) nowadays hosting a tourist resort. It is located on the southwestern fringe of the lagoon of North Malé Atoll. It was inhabited in the past by the community known as Giraavaru people (or Tivaru people).

Historical and anthropological facts[edit]

The Giraavaru islanders had certain customs of their own, the women, for example, used to wear distinctive white cloth patchwork bands on the neckpiece of their libaas dress (boavalhu) instead of the usual Maldivian golden or silvery thread designs.

In 1968 the island was depopulated due to heavy erosion and reduction of the community to a few members. The Giravaru people were resettled in nearby Hulhule Island, at the eastern edge of the Male' Atoll lagoon. At the time of depopulation there were only a few coconut trees growing on Giraavaru and the water in the wells had become saline.

When the airport at Hulhule was expanded they were relocated in the western end of Maafanu district in Malé. The Giravaru culture assimilated into the wider Malé society through inter-marriage after only about two generations.

It is unlikely that the Giraavaru islanders were the only early settlers in the Maldives, as it is often claimed on the basis of myths and legends. From the anthropological point of view there were, and still are, other distinctive groups of people in the Maldives, like in Huvadhu Atoll for example, having their particular customs, manners and even speaking markedly different language forms. However, the Giraavaru islanders have attracted much more attention owing to their proximity to the capital.

Malé islanders and the royal court were fascinated by the distinctiveness of the Giraavaru islanders for centuries and thus they became locally an iconic people group.


  • H. C. P. Bell, The Maldive Islands; Monograph on the History, Archaeology and Epigraphy. Reprint Colombo 1940. Council for Linguistic and Historical Research. Male’ 1989
  • Xavier Romero-Frias, The Maldive Islanders, A Study of the Popular Culture of an Ancient Ocean Kingdom. Barcelona 1999, ISBN 84-7254-801-5

4°12′01″N 73°24′45″E / 4.200278°N 73.412500°E / 4.200278; 73.412500Coordinates: 4°12′01″N 73°24′45″E / 4.200278°N 73.412500°E / 4.200278; 73.412500