The Maldives

MaldivesThe Maldives represent the tops of an undersea mountain range in the Indian Ocean and are grouped into 26 atolls. The entire archipelago extends over 823 km (510 miles) from north to south and 130 km (80 miles) from east to west and consists of 1,190 coral islands of which just over 200 are inhabited.

The nearest neighbor to this island republic is India which is about 600 km (373 miles) to the north and Sri Lanka, about 670 km (416.3 miles) to the east. 

The language of the Maldives is Dhivehi and is a combination of Indian, Arabic, and Malaysian influences. In the Middle Ages, Indian traders called the islands "Maldiv" which in Sanskrit meant "Garland of Islands". The Portuguese, who in 1558 ruled the Maldives for 15 years, assumed this name and thus it was passed over into European linguistic usage.

The population of the Maldives consists of more than 320,000 inhabitants, of whom 100 percent are practicing Sunni Muslims. Islam is the state religion and is protected by the President who is the supreme leader of the army and the highest authority in the country.

Tourism has developed as the main source of income for the country since 1972. More and more islands and atolls are being opened up for tourism and offer the visitor the possibility of enjoying the natural treasures of the country – white coral beaches, almost one-of-a-kind riches of underwater life and the tropical beauty of the islands.

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Dolphin Base Dive-Center Maldives