Interesting facts about the Maldives
The Maldives are located in the middle of the Indian Ocean and consist of 1196 islands, of which only about a fifth are inhabited. 220 are inhabited by the approximately 350,000 locals and 105 more will be used for tourism purposes.
The geography of the Maldives
The Maldives are a chain of islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean which extend for a length of 900 kilometers. The southern islands are at the height of the equator. India is the nearest mainland and lies about 600 kilometers to the northeast, Sri Lanka is located about 700 kilometers to the east. The 1196 islands, which are located in 26 geographical atolls, are divided into 20 administrative atolls. 220 are inhabited by the local population and 87 islands are used by resorts as tourist islands.
The islands are all very small. Only just 28 of the 1190 islands have a land mass greater than one square kilometer.
The population of the Maldives
The population of the Maldives has about 395,000 inhabitants, of which about a quarter live in the region around Male.
The population is distributed among the 220 inhabited islands. One third of the inhabited islands have less than 500 inhabitants and only 30% of the islands have more than 1000 inhabitants. This distribution of the population leads to high costs in the social and health sector.
The climate of the Maldives
The Maldives are near the equator and are under the influence of the monsoon. The Maldives know two seasons. The dry season or northeast monsoon from January to March and the rainy season or southwest monsoon from May to November. However, the temperature hardly varies during the seasons and is relatively stable around the 29 ° C throughout the year. During the day the average temperature is 31 ° C and at night 23 ° C. The daytime temperatures are somewhat moderated by the usually pleasant breeze.
During the rainy season it can rain heavily. Often this rain can last for several days. In 2002, a record rainfall of 220 mm was measured within 24 hours.
On the other hand, the Maldives are also blessed with plenty of sunshine throughout the year. On average, the sun shines at more than 2700 hours a year or around 7.5 hours a day.
The history of the Maldives
About the first settlement of the Maldives, one is still divided on today. One theory is that the settlement of the Maldives began in the 5th century BC. Took place when Buddhist fishermen from India and from the island Ceylon settled on the islands.
In 1558, the Portuguese occupied the islands, but were driven off in an eight-year guerrilla war. It was only in the 17th century that a European country managed to subjugate the islands. The Netherlands made a protectorate of the Maldivian sultanate after they occupied Ceylon as well. When the Netherlands lost Ceylon to the British in 1796, the Maldives also came under British influence, so that they were British protectorate from 1887 to 1965.
In 1953, the Republic was proclaimed. After a referendum, however, the sultanate was reintroduced. Three years later, in 1956, the Maldives received internal autonomy. Britain abandoned the islands in 1963 but retained the right of use at the military airports. The Maldives joined the Colombo Plan and became independent two years later in 1965. By constitutional amendment in 1968, the sultanate was converted into a republic. In 1982, the Maldives joined the Commonwealth of Nations. Only in 1972 did the country – at first slowly – open to tourism. In 1976, the British left the country finally, as the 30-year service life of the military airports had expired. Politics was strongly influenced by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He was from 1978 for six terms until 2008 in office. In 2008, the era of Gayoom came to an end, and new President Mohamed Nasheed has since become the head of state of the Maldives.
The economy of the Maldives
Despite tourism, the Maldives is one of the poorest countries in the world. The gross national product in 2009 was $ 1674 million, the GNP per capita about 4200 US dollars. According to the Maldivian Democratic Party, 42 percent of Maldivians live on less than $ 1.17 a day. Tourism has created many millionaires. Due to the price increases, however, the large part of the population has been impoverished and brought to the brink of misery. There is a strong inflation – in July 2008, it was 48 percent. Thousands of Maldivians bring their families to India because they can no longer afford their homeland and the children receive regular schooling there.
The atolls of the Maldives
The Maldives consists of approximately 1190 islands grouped in 26 different atolls in the Indian Ocean. The islands are scattered in north-south orientation to 900 kilometers and in east-west orientation to 150 kilometers. We have dived in different atolls for the last ten years. Most of the dives were done in Lhaviyani Atoll, but we also dived in Noonu, Baa, Raa, North Male, South Ari and South Nilandhe Atoll.
Some interesting facts:
The lowest point of the Maldives is logically at sea level and is therefore 0 m. The highest “mountain” of the Maldives is 2.4 m high and is located on the island of Wilingili.
Some 85’000 people live in the capital Male, the second largest city is home to about 10’000 inhabitants.
The state religion is Islam. It is also forbidden for visitors to practice another religion.
The islands together make up an area of about 300 km2. In contrast to the land area, the water surface is around 110,000 km2.
200 of the islands are inhabited and 87 islands are home to tourist infrastructures.
395,000 inhabitants live in the Maldives.
The language of the Maldivians is Dhivehi, a Sinhala dialect and the script is derived from Arabic.
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