The Maldives gets a lot of attention for being in danger of submersion due to climate change, but this tiny island nation is much more than the poster child for environmental protection efforts.
There are gorgeous beaches and crystal clear water, and the weather is always nice, making this one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Here are 10 more facts about this interesting place.
This South Asian country is in the Indian Ocean south of India. Here are a few things you didn’t know about the geography:
- The Maldives is made up of 1,199 coral islands. The archipelago is comprised of 26 atolls, which are islands developed from coral with a central lagoon. Only about 250 of them are inhabited. The total area is only about the size of Portland, Oregon, and the population is nearly 400,000.
- It’s the flattest country in the world. If you don’t like mountains or hills, you might like the Maldives. The maximum elevation is 2.4 meters, or less than eight feet, and is located on Viligili in the Addu Atholhu. This is the lowest highest point in the world.
- The Maldives is creating the largest marine reserve in the world. At the Rio+20 summit, the nation announced it would create the world’s biggest marine reserve to preserve its fisheries and biodiversity. If this happens, it will become the first country to become a marine reserve. What this means is that they will only allow sustainable and eco-friendly fishing. They plan to accomplish this goal by the year 2017.
A few things you didn’t know about activities in the Maldives:
- It is the most desirable diving destination in the world. The coral reefs and its marine ecosystem make this area amazing for diving. Many divers also venture here to spot sharks. Whale sharks, manta rays, grey reef sharks, moray eels and turtles are some of the animals you might see here.
- The Maldives has a ban on alcohol. The Maldives is a Muslim state, so alcohol is banned. Visitors won’t find alcohol except on the resorts catering to tourists.
- About half the workforce is employed in the fishing industry. Much of the industry is focused on fish for food, but aquarium fish harvested from the rich, tropical waters is one of the export industries.
- All resorts are located on their own islands. The resorts have restaurants, bars, sports facilities and entertainment. You might travel by boat to local fishing villages or go to Male, the capital, but mostly you’ll probably stay at your resort. There are 106 resort islands to choose from, ranging from affordable to luxury.
People and Culture
Overall, the people of the Maldives are very friendly and tolerant of visitors. They are unified by a common history, the Dhivehi language (they also speak English) and the Islamic faith. Also, they are family oriented. A few things you may not have known about the people and their culture:
- Tipping is not required. A 10-percent service charge is added to everything. At the resorts, tipping is frowned upon, although it is customary to tip your room attendant and your server (you’ll likely have the same ones your entire trip).
- Almost all the people are literate. About 98 percent of Maldivians are literate and are accustomed to the British educational system. Most children are educated in privately owned schools, which are run by Islamic teachers. There are also government and community schools. At the age of three, Maldivians are taught to write.
- The divorce rate in the Maldives is the highest in the world. The rate is 10.97 divorces per 1,000 yearly. Some reasons for the high rate of divorce are because the verbal pronouncement by the husband is adequate to terminate a marriage and there isn’t much social stigma for divorced people.
Maldives: A Great Place to Visit
With sunny skies, pure sands and clear, blue water, a trip to the Maldives is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity you can’t pass up. And because the Maldives is in danger of going underwater if climate change does not stop, your time to visit may be limited.
About the Author: Jessica Malloy loves to travel, especially to places where she can go diving. For planning, she recommends visiting Expedia travel and getting started as early as possible.