Maldives

Reference Information

Population

420,000

Official Language

Dhivehi

Primary Language

Dhivehi

Currency

Rufiyaa

Capital

Malé

Current Time in the Maldives

11:26:12, 09/19/2020

Overview

The Maldives is an independent island nation located in the Indian Ocean. Its formal name is Republic of Maldives. The Republic of Maldives is comprised of 26 atolls which have almost 2,000 islands among them. The nation has a population of approximately 425,000 people.

The capital of the republic is Malé, which has a population of 130,000. Interestingly, the word 'Maldives' simply means "Islands of Malé". The city of Malé is located on the similarly named island of Malé, found in the Kaafu atoll.

Brief History

The original inhabitants of the Maldives were likely peoples from or near India, such as the Tamils and Sinhalese. Around 500 - 200 B.C., Buddhism expanded into the islands, and remained the prominent religion until the 12th century. In the 12th century, a Buddhist king named Dhovemi, or Donei Kalaminjaa, converted to Islam after the religion was introduced to the island by Muslim traders. The nation has remained Islamic to this day, and conversion to Islam is required in order for a person to acquire citizenship.

The country was a sultanate from the 12th century to the mid 20th century, when it first became a republic in 1953. It briefly transitioned back to a sultanate before becoming a republic again in 1968.

Biodiversity

There are over 2,000 kinds of saltwater fish and five species of turtle in the Maldives. Eels, stingrays, and whale sharks live in the reefs. The deeper waters sustain over 20 kinds of dolphins and whales. Octopus and squid are the primary mollusks. The Maldives' main echinoderms are sea urchins, starfish, and sea cucumbers. Its bird population is comprised of migratory shorebirds including terns, frigatebirds, and herons. Few land mammals live in the Maldives, but there are several geckos and lizards. Its plant life includes sprawling vegetation and coconut trees.

One beach on Mudhdhoo Island in the Baa Atoll, is at times lit up by bioluminescent ostracod crustaceans.

Topography

The Republic of Maldives is the flattest and lowest nation above sea level on Earth. The average height above sea level is just 4 feet, and the highest point is 7 feet a.s.l. For this reason, the Maldives are very susceptible to the danger of rising sea levels. The Maldives' natural landscape includes shallow coastal beds, deep seas, mangroves, sandy shorelines, inner lagoons, and offshore coral reefs. Over 185 kinds of coral form the country's reefs.

Economy

In addition to aesthetic appeal, the Maldives' natural resources have economic value. Nearly 30 percent of the country's income comes from tourism, which brings in over 12 million visitors each year. Commercial fishing accounts for 15 percent of the annual GDP, and the fishing industry employs 30 percent of the population. Although no longer used as currency, coconut fibers remain a top export. Some manufacturing industries, including printing, clothing production, and brick-making, have emerged in recent years.

Weather

The temperature of the Maldives is mild, with temperatures generally ranging from highs of 90°F (32.2°C) to lows of 75°F (23.9°C) year round. The rainy season spans from September to December when the winter monsoon arrives. The rest of the year is drier except for a span in May - June when a monsoon from the south hits. Some rain occurs almost daily though, no matter what time of year it is.

Activities

Snorkeling and diving are extremely popular activity to view the amazing coral reefs and amazing underwater wildlife. Paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking are also fantastic ways to explore the atolls.