President Mohamed Nasheed, who was inaugurated on 2008-11-11, ran on a decentralization program based on the creation of seven provinces, plus one capital district. Parliament passed a decentralization bill that barred the formation of those provinces (sources , ). President Nasheed agreed to ratify the bill as passed. However, the president had already opened some provincial offices and appointed some ministers for the provinces in 2009, and he has "said that the provinces would be developed, with or without a decentralisation law" (source ). On 2011-03-01, the cabinet agreed on an administrative structure and appointed heads of provinces (source ). I take that as the date of establishment of the provinces. However, source  says that on 2012-04-24, President Mohamed Waheed Hassan closed the provincial offices and transferred their functions to the local councils. I conclude that the atolls are now once again the primary subdivisions.
ISO 3166-2 Newsletter II-3 is dated 2011-12-15. Relative to the previous version, it splits Alif (formerly
into Alifu Alifu and Alifu Dhaalu, and gives them separate codes. It also lists the seven new provinces and assigns codes to
them. It disagrees with me on the identification of South Central and Upper South provinces with atolls. For my reasoning, see
the Wikipedia discussion
Update 5 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2011-08-31. It has codes for the new provinces.
Note: There is some disagreement on one point: is South Central province north or south of Upper South province? One of them consists of Thaa and Laamu atolls, and the other, farther south, is Gaaf Alif and Gaaf Dhaalu. There are two official-looking maps that have conflicting labels. According to this map (upper left), the South Central label goes on Thaa and Laamu; according to another map , South Central province contains the Gaafs. My further investigations have convinced me that the first map is correct. Unfortunately, a lot of secondary online sources, including Wikipedia (source ), have drawn their information from the second map. After a discussion, the Wikipedia article has now been fixed.
The Maldive Islands were a British protectorate and a dependency of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) until 1948. Then the territory was separated from Ceylon and administered directly by Britain. It became independent on 1965-07-26.
Arabic al-Mahal: palace + Sanskrit dvipa: island
Maldives is divided into nineteen atolls and two cities.
Maldives Post (source ) introduced a new system of five-digit postal codes on 2002-09-09. The atoll of a location can be deduced from its first two digits, or just the first one in the Male postal area. Before then, codes for census statistical areas were used. They had the form nn-nn, where each 'n' is a digit.
The atolls in the Maldives form the middle link in a chain between British Indian Ocean Territory to the south and Lakshadweep union territory, India, to the north. They are separated from Lakshadweep by the Eight Degree Channel, at about eight degrees North latitude, and from B.I.O.T. by a broader channel centered at about three degrees South.
The UN LOCODE page for Maldives lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.
The names of most of the atolls are simply the names of letters of the Thaana alphabet. Thaana is used to write Dhivehi, the language of the Maldives, and is related to both the Arabic and Devanagari alphabets. Male comes from Arabic al-Mahal: palace.
According to anthropologist J.S. Gardiner, writing in 1901, atolu was the Dhivehi word for province. Since most of the provinces of the Maldives coincided with atolls even then, Europeans borrowed the word from Dhivehi and applied it to the concept of a ring of islands. (Source )
MV.AL) split into Aliff Aliff and Aliff Daalu.
|Central||13,442||Kudahuvadhoo||Daalu, Faafu, Meemu|
|North||43,539||Felivaru||Baa, Laviyani, Noonu, Raa|
|North Central||31,202||Maafushi||Aliff Aliff, Aliff Daalu, Kaafu, Waavu|
|South Central||20,483||Gan||Laamu, Thaa|
|Upper North||41,672||Kulhudhuffushi||Haa Aliff, Haa Daalu, Shaviyani|
|Upper South||19,275||Thinadhoo||Gaafu Aliff, Gaafu Daalu|
Note: (Admiralty) refers to atoll names on the British Admiralty charts. Aliff may be transcribed instead as Alif or Alifu; Daalu may be Dhaal or Dhaalu, Gaafu may be Gaaf, and so on. Names ending in "North" or "South" may equally well appear inverted (e.g. North Male instead of Male North). Names may be followed by "Atoll". Male is often written with an acute accent or apostrophe (Malé, Male').
Note: the 1978 census (source ) shows Aliff Aliff and Aliff Daalu combined as Alifu atoll. It shows Faafu divided into two atolls, Faafu (I) with 2,012 residents and Faafu (II) with 4,162. Kaafu atoll was probably included under Male at that time.
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