Three small atolls form the Baa Atoll. Each atoll has numerous smaller islands. The capital of Baa is Eydhafushi, which has about 2,530 residents. Baa's total population is approximately 11,000. Edyafushi is approximately 70 miles away from Male, which is the capital city of the Maldives. While many of Baa's hotels and resorts are located in Eydhafushi, this atoll also has one of the most bountiful and complex coral reef ecosystems in the world. This is due to the fact that it was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 2011, making it the first place in the Indian Ocean to bear that distinction. Hanifaru Bay, which is teeming with manta rays, and Baaththala, which contains the private island of Voavah and supports many types of marine life, are both located on the Baa Atoll. About a dozen of Baa's 75 islands are inhabited, and the rest are natural areas.
The Baa Atoll's UNESCO biosphere designation means that it balances human activity, natural life, and culture. The human culture of Baa is rich and diverse. From the first inhabitants of the Maldives, who arrived around 543 BC, to the modern population's customs, it is apparent that the Maldives have a unique identity. Asian, European, African, and Middle Eastern cultures have influenced Maldivian societies over time, as have Buddhism and Islam. Between the 10th and 12th centuries, the Maldives were a fundamental part of the Asian economy, as they supplied the cowrie shells and coconut fibers once used as Asian currency. Starting in the mid-1600s, Middle Eastern explorers frequently stopped in the Maldives along their Spice Trade routes. Later, European explorers followed suit. The Maldives were British-owned from 1887 to 1965, which is when they gained independence from foreign rule.
While the waters around the Maldives can make sailing dangerous, seafaring has nevertheless been an important way of Maldivian life throughout time. Today, fishing largely supports the island's economy, while tourism is close behind. There are over 105 coral reefs throughout the Baa Atoll, which provide excellent opportunities for diving and exploring. The island's interior is dotted with mangrove clusters and diverse flora, which makes it popular with naturalists. Migrating seabirds, like the great frigatebird, pass through seasonally. Various species of sea turtles live around Baa too. Since some are endangered, it is illegal to capture them or take their eggs.