Saturday, January 28, 2023

Maldives

  • Population: roughly 550,000 people (2021)
  • Capital: Malé with about 200,000 inhabitants
  • Name: Republic of Maldives. The name comes from the city of Malé and refers to the islands of Malé.
  • Government: Presidential Republic
  • Language: Dhivehi
  • Religion: predominantly Muslim
  • Currency: 1 Maldivian rufiyaa = 100 laari
  • National Day: 26 July
  • National Symbols: yellowfin tuna, coconut palm
  • National Colours: red, green and white
Flag of Maldives
  • History: The atolls in the Maldives are populated for over 2,500 years as mentioned in ancient Tamil writing. Buddhist faith was dominant on the islands until the 12th century after this the population converted to Islam. From the 15th century the Maldives was first colonised by the Portuguese and later the British. In 1965, Maldives gained independence from the UK.

Geography

The Maldives is a country in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives belongs to the Asian continent and is located to the south of  India or to the southwest of Sri Lanka. This is the smallest country on the Asian continent.

  • The Maldives are located on the central part of a submerged ocean mountain range called Laccadive-Chagos Ridge that is about 300 m/ 985 ft deep.
  • The Maldives are home to the largest atoll in the world. Huvadhu has a lagoon of 112 km/ 69 miles in diameter and a depth of 86 m/ 282 ft.
  • Felidhu is the most sparsely populated atoll with about 1,500 people on five islands.
  • There are no rivers in the Maldives and no hills, the highest points of the Maldives islands are about 15 ft above sea level.
  • There are only two small freshwater lake on Foammulaku atoll.
  • The northernmost atoll is North Thiladhunmathi about 26 km north of Male and the southernmost atoll is called Addu and lies about 500 km south of Male.

Attractions

The building with a gold dome and houses the Grand Friday Mosque which can accommodate 5,000 people, an Islamic library and classrooms. This landmark in Malé is one of the largest mosques in South Asia.

Maldives Friday Mosque complex
Friday Mosque complex

This mosque also referred to as Hukuru Miskiiy is the oldest mosque of the country and was built in 1656. The mosque was built with coral stones and the coral carvings are unique. There are still the old tomb stones and some well preserved buildings.

Maldives Presidential Palace - image by Ehab Othman/shutterstock
Maldives Presidential Palace 

The Presidential Palace of the Maldives was built earlier last century and today is the official residence of the president.

Economy

The currency of the Maldives is the rufiyaa. The coins are called laari.

The main industries of the Maldives are fishing, shipping and boat building, sand and coral mining and tourism. Almost 2 million tourists visit the Maldives per year.

People

About one third of the people live in the capital city Malé or in urban areas of the 200 inhabited islands. About 1,000 islands of the archipelago are not inhabited.

Malé is not only the most populous city of the Maldives, but also one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Addu City in the south, is the second biggest city.

The national language is Dhivehi, a language in Arabic script but derives from the Sinhala language spoken in Sri Lanka. The language is written from right to left. English is spoken widely and the main language in many communities especially in the tourism sector.

Animals

The Maldives have a very rich marine life, but there are few land animals. The coral reefs and sea animals are plentiful. In the Maldives you can snorkel among turtles.

Turtle in clear Maldives watersThere are flying foxes and fruit bats, cats and goats and some reptiles such as geckos, lizards and non-poisonous snakes. Dogs are not allowed on the Maldives.
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