Geographically isolated from Male but strategically located on the Indian Ocean trade routes, Gaafu Dhaalu – the southern part of Huvadhoo Atoll – has independent tendencies dating back many years. It had its own direct trade links with Sri Lanka, and a dialect of Dhivehi almost incomprehensible to other Maldivians is spoken here. The capital island of Thinadhoo was a focal point of the so-called ‘southern rebellion’ against Male rule during the early 1960s, so much so that the army invaded in February 1962 and destroyed all the homes. It now has a population of around 5200; the rest of the atoll’s inhabitants are scattered across nine other islands.
While there are several resorts here, Gaafu Dhaalu remains a remote part of the country, though visitors regularly come to the southeastern edge of the atoll to surf the uncrowded waves that break around the channel entrances.