Fuvammulah or Fua Mulaku (Dhivehi: ފުވައްމުލައް) is a large single island in the Maldives. It is one of the administrative divisions of the Maldives under the name Gnaviyani Atoll or Nyaviyani Atoll. The inhabitants speak a distinctive form of the Dhivehi language, known as Mulaki baha which is somehow in between the forms of Dhivehi spoken in Huvadu and Addu.
The name of this island means “Island of the Areca nut palms”, Fuvah (or “Fua”) in the local language. Other places in the world like Penang in Malaysia and Guwahati in Assam, India, are also named after this nut. The original name of the island could have simply been Mulah, but was called Fuvammulah (the Mulah with the arecanut palms) to distinguish it from Boli Mulah– another important island in ancient Maldives.
The island is about 4.5 km by 1.2 km with a submerged reef (Rashikedefaro) extending for about three km in a SE direction. In the distant past Fua Mulaku was a small coral atoll whose southern end was open at a spot called Diyarehifaando and the inside of the island was a saltwater lagoon forming a natural harbour. There is a spot in the southern end known as a Kudhuheraivali (the forest of the small islet), which indicates that there was a separate little island in that area in ancient times. But long ago the channel connecting the lagoon with the ocean was closed by massive coral boulders. Thus the inside of the island is lower than its edges. In time the inner lagoon lost its saltiness and all that remains today are two small lakes, wetlands and marshy taro fields. Therefore Fua Mulaku is a small Atoll that closed and filled in with silt, like Nukutavake in the Central Pacific.
The northern lake of the island is known as “Dhadimagi-Kilhi” and the southern is known as “Bandaara-Kilhi” (lit. ‘Harbour Lake’ because formerly there was much talk among the locals about making a harbour by connecting it with the sea through a canal). Lacking a lagoon and being subject to violent ocean swells, Fua Mulaku island was often inaccessible to seafarers. Recently a harbor has been built at the SE tip of the island, but it is not easy to use in the often harsh weather conditions.
Fua Mulaku was traditionally divided into nine villages (clockwise from the Northern end): Dhadimago, Hōdhado, Mālegan, Dūndigan, Funādo, Miskimmago, Dhashokubai, Mādhado and Diguvāndo. Nowadays the number of villages has been reduced to eight, since the village of Dashokubai was merged with Miskimmago. Each district has a chief who is accountable to the island chief.