A lot can be said about the Maldives, the beautiful island nation among coral reefs in the midst the Indian Ocean. It is located south of the Lakshadweep islands (India) and about 700 km south-west of Sri Lanka, on the equator.
There are about 1,190 coral islands, which form an archipelago of the 26 main atolls. The Maldives stretches about 820 km north to south and 120 km east to west.
About 200 of them are inhabited, and 87 are exclusively resort islands. The Maldives climate is comfortable, tending towards warm and humid.
The sun shines throughout the year and the average temperature is around 29-32°C.
According to some estimates, Maldives was formed about 270,000 years ago. The origins of the Maldivians are lost in the maze of history, but records reveal that these islands have been populated for at least 3,000 years. The early settlers in Maldives were the Silk Route travelers and visitors from the Indus Valley Civilization.
A history and culture of the Maldivians evolved from the very first settlers who came from various parts of the world, traveling over the seas in the ancient times. The Maldives, since then, has been a melting pot of many different cultures as people from all around the world came to these islands and settled down.
It is said the Maldives that the name of the country derives from Maale Dhivehi Raajje, which means ‘The Island Kingdom (under the authority of) Malé’.
Other renowned scholars hold the opinion about Maldives that its name comes from the Sanskrit word maladvipa, which means ‘a garland of islands’. Another school of thought maintains that ‘Maldives’ derives from mahila dvipa, or 'the island of women'.
The language spoken in the Maldives is Dhivehi. English is also spoken by the Maldivians and tourists can communicate with them easily, especially around the capital island. In the atoll resorts, a number of languages are used by the staff, which includes English, French, German, Italian and Japanese.
The economical data about Maldives indicates that it has been growing steadily at a yearly average of 10% for the past twenty years. Tourism is of course the main industry, and contributes about 20% of the GDP. Trade and Fisheries follow close behind. The Maldives economy is considered as quite exemplary in the region, and the country also welcomes foreign investment.
A fascinating fact about the Maldives is that the original inhabitants of this country were Buddhist. Islam was introduced here in 1153. Later, in stages, it first became a Portuguese (1558), then a Dutch (1654), and finally, a British (1887) colonial possession. It became independent in 1965 and three years later, the Sultanate became a Republic.