Maldives is a nation of coral islands scattered
across the Indian Ocean. Geographically,
it is located between 72o 32' 30" E 73o
45' 54" E and 7o 06' 30" N to 0o 41' 48"
S, which puts her just north of the Equator
and southwest of the Indian peninsular.
to see a map|
archipelago consists of about 1190 small
low-lying coral islands of which few of
them are, just a meter above sea level.
These islands stretch more than 800 km from
north to south covering a total area of
about 90,000 square km of which about 99%
is water. 200 islands are inhabited while
87 islands are developed as resort islands.
The fragile house reefs of these islands
act as a barrier of protection from tides
and waves. These reefs also contribute to
the formation of sand and continuation of
the life cycle of the marine species. It
also acts as a habitat to thousands of tiny
and large organisms.
British protectorate that gained independence
in 1965 is famous for its splendid white
beaches, crystal clear lagoons and peaceful
tranquillity of nature's blessing. This
unique creation of nature naturally forms
26 atolls, which for administrative purposes
are made into 20 by the government. This
small republic was a kingdom before it was
declared a republic. The population is estimated
265,000 in 1999. The ethnic origin of the
natives is still in debate among scholars
and researchers, but it is evident that
there is a close resemblance with the South
Asian, Southeast Asian, Arabic and African
cultures and influence. Maldivians speak
in a unique language called dhivehi and
have their own transcript thaana for writing.
economy was traditionally based on fisheries
till the emergence of tourism as its foreign
currency generator in the late 20th century.
The introduction of tourism to the small
island nation transformed the economy from
a primary to a tertiary industry-driven
economy, making tourism the most dependable
industry of the country. Tourism being a
service industry has direct and indirect
links to all other major and minor industries
of the economy. During the last two and
half decades the Maldivian way of life has
been changing in all aspects keeping pace
with economic development. But still the
lifeline depends on the sea, which supplies
fish as food, sand and coral for housing
and land for limited needs and the warm
tropical underwater garden as a tourist
attraction, which generates the much needed
climate, white beaches and rich marine environment
have made the country a tourist magnet for
the past 32 years. The Maldives as the 14th
century Moroccan traveller described as
"one of the wonders of the world" today
is said to be second to none for sun lovers,
beach wanderers, scuba divers and those
who seek peace in its simplest form.