A Little Backgound

The Maldives (Maldive Islands) are located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, just above the Equator, made up of 26 Atolls, with each Atoll made up of an outer ring of islands and a string of tiny islands inside the Atoll ring, all just a few metres above the water line. There are no mountains here, but the string of Atolls and islands spreads from north to south close to 1000 kilometres.

The country has a population of less than 400,000, about 63,000 of these people located in the main City, Male (pronounced Malé) which is roughly half way between the islands furthest from the north and the south. There is also a large number of migrant 'guest workers', around 70,000 who work in the Resorts and tourism industries, and a large number of Tourists who mostly stay here in the Maldives for a week or two.

The Maldives is a Sunni Muslim country, has its own Dhivehi language, a language derived from Sinhala, a language that is spoken by Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka, with Dhivehi in written form being in script form, similar to Arabic. Most Maldivians in the tourist industry speak English, sometimes French or German, with foreign guest workers also speaking other languages depending on their country of origin or that of their main guests – be that from India, Russia, China, Japan or elsewhere.

The Maldives has made the news in recent years, mainly in relation to 'global warming' and its consequences for the Maldives. In 2004 a tsunami that started 2500 kilometres away in Indonesia and hit parts of Thailand and also Sri Lanka, but also hit the Maldives, with the destruction causing significant damage and a number of deaths. Luckily when it hit the Maldives, it was at low tide, but the Maldives remains vulnerable to tsunamis, given that it is on average just 2.5 metres above sea level.

The main industry in the Maldives is Tourism, with the two other biggest industries being fishing and shipping. Being a Muslim country means that drinking Alcohol is restricted to non-Muslims, so in resorts it is possible to drink alcohol, though it can be expensive, depending on whether it is included in your accommodation or tour package or excluded from it.

A lot of foodstuffs and other goods are all imported, so they tend to be expensive, and even a Coca-Cola can cost quite a bit. They bottle Coca-Cola here in the Maldives, but they use desalinated water in making it, and most of the resorts also have desalination plants for their water supplies too.

Happy Travelling!

Geoff Stuart

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