The capital city of this island nation is said to be the most densely populated major city in the world, with a mind-boggling 35,000 people living per sq km. Can you guess which country it’s in?

The correct answer is Malé, the capital city of the Republic of the Maldives. The Maldives is an island nation southwest of India and Sri Lanka. It is the smallest Asian country in terms of population and land area. This tropical group of atolls is comprised of 1,192 islands, 192 of which are inhabited. Its total land area is 298 sq km, which equates to 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC. Estimates for 2013 put the nation’s total population at 393,988. As previously mentioned, the population of the capital city Malé is said to be a whopping 35,000 people per sq km. I thought Tokyo trains during rush hour were bad, but this is inconceivable!

Additional trivia:

  • The official language of the Maldives is Dhivehi, a dialect of Sinhala (which is the language spoken by the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka). Its script is derived from Arabic.
  • The word “Maldives” actually means “the islands (dives) of Malé.”
  • Sunni Muslim is the country’s official religion.

▼The island chain is made up of a series of atolls, or ring-shaped coral reefs including a coral rim that encircle a lagoon


▼The official flag


▼Malé from a distance



▼Malé up close


Here’s what some Japanese netizens had to say after looking at pictures of Malé:

I think I’d get depressed if I lived there.
Everything’s so packed together that you’d definitely be recognized if you tried buying erotic books!
It looks like Vatican City.
The city would be annihilated if a tsunami came…
It looks like a failed creation from SimCity.
If the sea rises they’re in trouble.
I want to see a picture of the city on a rainy day!
I’d probably get to know everyone on the island.
It reminds me of Costa del Sol, in Spain.

▼(Costa de Sol, Spain)

By the way, the second and third most densely populated cities in the world are said to be Macao and Hong Kong, respectively. Mumbai, Seoul, Metropolitan Manila, the 23 special wards of Tokyo, Osaka, and Shanghai also make the top ten.

In case you’re curious, here’s a list of the most densely populated countries and the number of people per sq km (Note: this list excludes countries with exceedingly small land area to begin with, such as city-states Monaco (22,021) or Singapore (6,430)):

1. Bangladesh (985)
2. Taiwan (643)
3. South Korea (480)
4. The Netherlands (393)
5. Japan (343)
6. Belgium (341)
7. India (336)
8. Sri Lanka (316)
9. The Philippines (277)
10. Vietnam (254)
11. The United Kingdom (246)

After seeing these pictures, would you like to visit Malé someday, or is it just too overwhelming?

▼(I personally would like to visit THIS part of the Maldives, away from the city…)


Sources/Images: Himasoku, CIA World FactbookWikipedia (12)