Driving Directions Maldives

MALDIVES, the, is a republic consisting of 1,200 low-lying coral islands grouped into 12 atolls, lying 640 kilometers or 398 miles south­west of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. Roughly 202 islands are inhabited, and the highest point is only 1.5 meters or 5 feet above sea level.

Independence gained in 1965, with a republic formed three years later.

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The climate is hot and humid and affected by monsoons from May to August.

The islands are covered with coconut palms, and some millet, cassava, yams, and tropical fruit are grown. However, rice, the sta­ple diet of the islanders, has to be imported. The most important natural resource is marine life, and fishing is a principal occupation. The chief export is now canned or frozen tuna, but tourism has overtaken fishing as the primary foreign currency earner.

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The Maldives consists of an archipelago of almost twelve hundred coral islands and sandy banks in the Indian Ocean. The level and low-lying islands are gradually washing away into the ocean; others are still forming, and these are constantly growing in size. Most islands have freshwater lagoons, and all have coastal reefs. The largest atoll group is the Malé Atoll, where the capital city, Malé, is located.

The Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean, about 645 kilometers (400 miles) southwest of Sri Lanka. A protective, fringing coral reef surrounds each island. Small patch reefs and Faroes (unusual ring-shaped reefs) are located in Malé Atoll’s lagoon.

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