The Maldives - ‘We fought hard’: the Maldivian community that saved its island from developers
The Maldives are a hotspot for tourists, but development often comes at a cost to the environment. One community fought back
From above, the Indian Ocean island of Rasdhoo vaguely resembles the outline of a stingray – a compact stretch of land encircled by reefs shaped like wings beneath the clear fluorescent blue waters.
One of almost 1,200 islands that make up the Maldives, Rasdhoo is popular with tourists as a scuba-diving spot, thanks to the thriving coral reef ecosystem that surrounds it. On the surface, it’s fairly prosperous: streets are lined with souvenir gift shops, restaurants and snorkelling and diving centres. Tourists stay at one of its 16 guesthouses.
Less than a kilometre from Rasdhoo’s east coastline is Madivaru, a tiny uninhabited islet, and Madivaru Finolhu, which is little more than a narrow and pristine sandbank. They’re known as the “picnic islands”; tourists visit to snorkel, sunbathe and watch the pink-hued skies of spectacular Maldivian sunsets.