The tiny island nation of Maldives is at high risk of being swamped in years to come: it rises a mere three feet above sea level. So officials are building Hulhumalé, a human-made island with an altitude of more than six feet, capable of housing as many as 150,000 of the nation’s 369,000 inhabitants. There’s only one problem: Very few people want to move there. In the words of one Maldivian, who lives contentedly in the capital city of Malé with nine relatives in 730 square feet of space: “People are just being shifted from one island to another — it’s not a long-term solution.” Hulhumalé is strapped for cash and having trouble attracting investors. At first, “it was good fun,” says Mahjoob Shujau, head of the Hulhumalé Development Corp. Now, “our honeymoon period is over.”

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