Satellite image of Maldives island
May 2024

Maldives’ transformation seen from space

Satellite 2D timelapse of the Maldives

The Maldives are known as an idyllic destination: heavenly beaches, crystal clear blue lagoons through which you can see aquatic flora and fauna, a reef famous for its multi-colored corals…… Seen from above, we can easily see the reef limits all around the group of 1,190 islands and sandbanks being formed. 

But heaven is being threatened by land expansion projects : the timelapse over the last 12 months shows how the atolls are being filled with sand to reclaim pieces of land.

The Maldives’ lack of space

The three major aims of the project are to create extra housing for locals and tourists, to incite development and anticipate rising waters. 

Malé, the capital, is one of the most densely populated parts of the planet with more than 17,000 hab/ and the city has received 5,000 requests for housing since 2021. The expansion project will help rehouse them but also to attract international investment and tourists : it is part of an economic development objective since this new scenery is designed to boost the creation of new jobs and wealth.

Finally, the Maldives have to face a difficult situation given that the country could be one of the first to be totally submerged by 2100 due to global warning. The solution chosen by the government was to elevate several islands and gain a few years before the inevitable.

Maldivian ecosystem threatened and disasters to anticipate

But while the project solves a demographic problem, it also creates ecological and social risks.

The construction of expansion causes direct and indirect damages : coral destruction, cloud of sediment spread out in the water, ecosystemic harm… The region, already sensitive to environmental risks, will become even more vulnerable to erosion, flooding or storm surges. These types of events can generate serious safety and social consequences for Maldivians.