The Maldives (Divehi Jumhuriya, Republic of Maldives) are an archipelago of atolls located in the Indian Ocean south-west of the southern tip of India. The archipelago of the Maldives is located only 400 km from the southern tip of India, and 700 km south-west of the island of Sri Lanka (Ceylon).
The archipelago consists of 20 coral atolls with a total of more than 1,000 islands, of which 200 are inhabited, stretching for about 800 km, between the equator and 7 ° north latitude. The state capital is Malé, the surface total of the islands is 298 square kilometres.
The islands, being coral atolls, are flat and the highest point of the archipelago is just above the “considerable” height of 2 meters. The Maldives are among the countries most at risk from rising sea levels to the melting of polar ice.
Inhabited by humans as early as two thousand years ago, the islands suffered various rulers from India: Until the twelfth century Buddhism was the predominant religion among the population of the archipelago, but from the end of the twelfth century underwent a gradual Islamization. In the sixteenth century they were occupied for some years by the Portuguese. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Maldives became a British protectorate.
The islands are known for their marine ecosystem, there are pristine coral reefs, rich marine life, fish and corals. Tourism is the main resource of the islands, thanks to the beauty of the sea and the many island exclusive-hotels. Other resources are fishing (tuna, corals and shells), and the cultivation of coconut palms, from which are produced oil, copra and textiles fibers.
- Area: 298 sqkm.
- Population: 300,000 (2006 data)
- State Capital: Malé.
- Language: Official language is Dhivehi.
- Religion: Muslim 100%.
- Currency: Rufiyaa (MVR)
- Time: UTC +5 hours.