Maldives – The Island Nation
The immense archipelago that makes up the Maldives lies south-west of the southern tip of India and spans a vast area of the west Indian Ocean. With an area of about 90,000 square kilometers, yet less than 0.5 per cent of it being dry land, the Maldives is one of the most distinct countries in the world.
Comprised of coral reefs of volcanic origin, the Maldives consists of a chain of 26 Atolls, atop of which there are about 1,190 islands with a total population of approximately 395,000, a third of which live in the capital of Male’. Besides the 200 local islands, as of today, the country has seen the development of 100+ resort islands, along with some 900 uninhabited islands and numerous desolate sandbanks free from any vegetation. The highest land point in the Maldives is 2.4 meters, making it the lowest highpoint in the world.
The Maldives has long been a melting pot of different cultures and the faces of today’s Maldivians display the features of those that inhabit the lands around the Indian Ocean shipping and maritime routes. The language, too, is strongly influenced by the major languages of the region and world languages with which the locals are in contact with.
Islam is central to the private and public life of the Maldivians and citizens are obliged to adhere to Muslim principles by constitution. The nation’s main events and festivals follow the Muslim calendar, and religious education is provided both at home and at school.
The Maldives’ natural beauty, climate and location at the equator have inevitably led to the development of a tourist destination which now, forty years later, exists in a mutually beneficial relationship with the local communities that share their nation’s enviable gems with the inquisitive traveler.