The beautiful Maldives, consisting of many separate islands and atolls, is the lowest country in the world. Popular as a holiday destination the Maldives features history, natural wonders, and many exciting things to do. Read on to discover 20 facts about the Maldives.
Geography and Weather
1. The Maldives consists of 1192 coral islands grouped in 26 atolls arranged in a north to south directions spread over the Indian Ocean for roughly 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles).
2. The Maldives atolls are composed of sand bars and live coral reefs. Ninety-nine percent of the Maldives is water.
3. The islands’ amazing sand is white and extremely fine as it is coralline in origin and not made from quartz, as beach sand typically is. Representing less than five percent of the world’s beaches, coralline ones are rare.
4. Located close to the equator, the sun’s rays shine almost directly down on you so bring plenty of highly rated sun protection with you. They strike at a 90° angle.
5. Two seasons dominate the Maldives’ weather: the winter northeastern monsoon season and the rainy southwestern summer monsoon season. The closer to the equator the islands are, the greater is the monsoon influence.
Map of the Maldives
History and Religion
6. People from India were the first to officially colonize these islands, sometime before 269 B.C. Its first kingdom was established by an exiled Indian prince, disgraced son of the king of Kalinga in India. The king sent him to what was then known as Dheeva Maari.
7. The customs and people of the Maldives were greatly influenced by Indians, Sri Lankans, North Africans, Arabs and Europeans traveling through the trade routes of the Indian Ocean. Maldivians developed their own language and cultural identity.
8. The people of the Maldives converted to Islam in 1153 A.D. and today it is a strictly Muslim nation. Visitors must obey local laws and traditions: no alcohol is allowed (outside of the resorts). Local religious standards for beach wear and public dress should be followed.
9. Not only is the Maldives South Asia’s smallest country, it is the smallest Muslim country of any in the entire world.
10. Like other Muslim countries, the Maldives take their weekend on Friday and Saturday, not Saturday and Sunday as the western countries do.
Flag of the Maldives
11. The Maldives are ranked the world’s third most endangered nation due to flooding from climate change and global warming.
12. The 26 December 2004 tsunami resulting from an Indian Ocean floor earthquake caused serious damage to the infrastructures of 57 islands, caused 14 to be totally evacuated, and destroyed six completely. There were 21 resort islands that closed due to serious damage and 108 deaths.
13. In 2011, UNESCO designated an area comprised of 75 islands as the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve. This reserve has coral reefs as its most important habitat type in terms of sheer area as well as biodiversity of life. It supports approximately 250 species of coral and many other ocean life species.
14. The Maldives is home to five of the world’s seven species of marine turtles: the green turtle, the hawksbill, the olive ridley turtle, the loggerhead, and the leatherback turtle.
15. The parrot fish makes a huge contribution to the beauty of the Maldives’ beaches. The corrallite sand is the undigested coral they eat. One adult parrot fish can produce an estimated ton of sand per year!
16. The Maldives is one of the world’s safest travel destinations. This is largely because of the isolation of its island resorts.
17. Accommodations for holiday travelers include guest houses, resorts, hotels and liveaboard opportunities on boats and yachts.
18. Home to 21 species of whale and dolphin, independent dolphin watching cruises by dhoni (traditional boats) can be arranged. The whale submarine allows you to explore the underwater world while staying perfectly dry.
19. When cruising, snorkeling, and diving, expect to see schools of blue and yellow-striped snappers and common lionfish, yellow boxfish and sometimes sea turtles. Regular and deep sea fishing is available.
20. For those of an adventurous turn, choose from fly boarding, free diving, jet skis, kayaking, kite surfing, parasailing, surfing, wake boarding, water skiing, and underwater scooters.
The Maldives – country at a glance
|Independence||26 July 1965 (from the UK)|
|Area||298 sq km|
|Population||392,709 (July 2017 est.)|
|Currency||Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR)|
|Official Language||Maldivian (Dhivehi)|
|National Anthem||"Gaumee Salaam" (National Salute)|
|National symbol||coconut palm, yellowfin tuna|
|National color||red, green, white|
|Climate||tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)|
|Government type||presidential republic|
|Life Expectancy (2016)||75.6 Years|
|Birth rate||16.1 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)|
|Death rate||4 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)|
|Sex ratio||1.05 male(s)/female|
|Industries||tourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining|
|Imports||petroleum products, clothing, intermediate and capital goods|
|GDP - per capita (PPP) (est. 2015)||$15,300 (2016 est.)|
|Terrain||flat, with white sandy beaches|
|Drives on the||Left|
|Time Zone||Maldives Time (UTC+5)|
|Internet country code||.mv|
|Data sources||CIA, Wikipedia|
|Table last updated||14 March 2018|