Population: 328,536 (est.)
- The Maldivian rufiyaa is the official currency of the Maldives.
- Islam is the official religion of the Maldives and open practice of any other religion is forbidden and liable to prosecution.
- The adult literacy rate on the 300,000+ person islands is nearly 99 percent – among the highest in the world.
- The Maldives were the first country in the world to hold an official presidential cabinet meeting underwater. During the meeting, which the president and vice president attended, a declaration on global climate change was signed.
- The climate is generally warm and humid. Sun shines all year through. Average temperature around 29 – 32 degrees Celsius.
- Only 200 of the Maldives’ 1,192 islets are inhabited.
Maldives, officially the Republic of the Maldives and also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls, orientated north-south, that lie between Minicoy Island (the southernmost part of Lakshadweep, India) and the Chagos Archipelago. The chains stand in the Laccadive Sea, about 700 kilometres (430 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka and 400 kilometres (250 mi) south-west of India.
For the majority of its history, the Maldives has been a free nation, despite three instances during which it was ruled by outside forces. In the mid-sixteenth century, for sixteen years, the Maldives was dominated by the Portuguese Empire. In the mid-seventeenth century, Malabar dominated Maldives for three months. Finally, in the late eighteenth century, on the brink of war, the Maldives became a British protectorate from 1887 until 1965. The Dutch referred to the islands as the “Maldivische Eilanden” while the British anglicised the local name for the islands first to the “Maldive Islands” and later to the “Maldives”. The islands gained independence from the British in 1965 and became a republic ruled by a sultanate and an authoritarian government.
The Maldives archipelago is located on top of the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean. Maldives also form a terrestrial ecoregion together with the Chagos and the Lakshadweep. The Maldives atolls encompass a territory spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi), making the country one of the world’s most geographically dispersed. Its population of 328,536 (2012) inhabits 192 of its 1,192 islands. In 2006, Maldives’ capital and largest city Malé, located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll, had a population of 103,693. Malé is one of the Maldives’ administrative divisions and, traditionally, it was the “King’s Island” where the ancient Maldive royal dynasties were enthroned.
Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. With an average ground level of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the planet’s lowest country.It is also the country with the lowest natural highest point in the world, at 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in). Not surprisingly, forecasts of Maldives’ inundation are a great concern for the Maldivian people.