Unlike other atolls of Maldives, Addu city possesses a natural anchorage within the city basin, as the atoll is land-locked with large islands surrounding the atoll. This results in a natural harbor that is very calm and safe for sea vessels at all times, and is not affected by seasonal changes. The atoll possesses four channels which lead into the lagoon. In the north are the Kuda Kandu and Maa Kandu, in the south the Gan Kandu, and the broad Villingili Kandu is to the southeast.
There are unique features in the islands of Addu Atoll. The islands are protected from the storms and high waves of the Indian Ocean by barrier reefs. Coconut palms, the national tree, are able to grow almost everywhere on the Islands. There are small lakes, wetlands, and marshy taro fields in the islands that are unique. Also, white terns known as the "dhondheeni" by Adduans gives the Atoll a uniqueness as it is found only in Addu Atoll in Maldives.
Addu Atoll also possesses particularly rich whale and dolphin fauna. A great diversity of species has been found there. Addu Atoll is the only area in the Maldives that was not affected by the 1998 global coral bleaching. The south of the Maldives was spared from the “too warm” major ocean currents (El Niño); the bright and healthy corals start at the top of giris and thilas (about 1 meter [3 ft] under the surface) and slope down with the reef to a depth of 30 meters (98 ft) or more.
The dialect spoken is called ‘Addu bas’ and though it has similarities to the ‘Mulaku bas’ of Fuvahmulah, it is relatively different from the official form of Dhivehi language. Traditionally, ‘Addu bas’ was widely spoken amongst the educated masses of three different atolls from the south, who adopted it as their lingua franca. It has also been credited with being the most famous and widespread single dialect in the Republic of Maldives. However, when Addu declared independence and recognized themselves as the United Suvadive Republic, the Male’ language rather than ‘Addu bas’ was used in official correspondence. Nevertheless, despite the difference in dialects, the written version is common throughout the Maldives.
Long ago Addu City was ruled by families appointed by the sultans in Malé, and may have had a matrilineal system of inheritance; it is very much a man's world today. There was a recent period in Addu history when the status quo changed for a while, when a more matriarchal society developed and women became the breadwinners.