We spent three days exploring the Maldives archipelago as we travelled the entire 870km length from south to north. This vast area of ocean is scattered with beautiful dots of land surrounded by turquoise blue seas, with lagoons, beaches and coral reefs. We saw several pods of dolphins.The rich turquoise blue colour of the seas dotted with tiny ittle islands will remain in my memory forever.
The Maldives, in the Laccodive Sea, comprise of 1192 islands in 26 Atolls of which 200 are inhabited by 395,000 people. It is 870km North to South and 130km West to East. Comprising a territory spanning roughly 298 square kilometres (115 sq mi), the Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed countries, as well as the smallest Asian country by both land area and population. The Maldives archipelago is located atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean. With an average ground-level elevation of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the world's lowest country, with even its highest natural point being the lowest in the world, at 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in). Due to the subsequent risks posed by rising sea-levels, the government has pledged to make the Maldives a carbon-neutral country by 2019.The capital, Male is about 600 km south-west of India and 730km south-west of Sri Lanka.
The language is Dhivehi (an Indro-Indian language) which was influenced heavily from Arabic since the advent of Islam in the country in 1153. The Maldivian script, thaana, was invented during the 16th Century soon after the country was liberated from Portugese rule. Unlike former scripts, thaana is written from right to left.
Fishing and tourism are the main industries. Until 2009 visitors to the Maldives were only able to stay on resort islands away from the Muslim population.
As the Maldives comprise more sea than land, fish (mainly tuna) have always been the prominent food, supplemented with taro and sweet potato, however, with travellers from around the world new seasonings and vegetables have been introduced.
The Maldivian archipelago was Islamised in the 12th century and consolidated as a sultanate, developing strong commercial and cultural ties with Asia and Africa. From the mid 16th-century, the region came under the increasing influence of colonial powers, with the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887. Independence from the United Kingdom was achieved in 1965 and a presidential republic was established in 1968 with an elected People's Majlis. The ensuing decades have been characterised by political instability, efforts at democratic reform, and environmental challenges posed by climate change.The Maldives was a Commonwealth republic from July 1982 until its withdrawal from the Commonwealth in October 2016 in protest at international criticism of its records in relation to corruption and human rights.