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  • Last Updated: 08th December 2016

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Maldives - Indian Ocean

The island nation of the Maldives consists of a double chain of 26 atolls, or ring-shaped coral reefs, spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres in the Indian Ocean. The word atoll comes from the language spoken in the Maldives, in which this special type of island is called an “atholhu.”

Incredible islands

For visitors, the Maldives offers a balmy tropical climate, lagoons with warm azure water, colourful reefs teeming with diverse marine life and some of the world’s most beautiful, palm-fringed beaches. It also features many top-notch resorts.

The Maldives includes a large number of completely unspoilt, uninhabited islands, many of which can be visited by boat. Only 200 of the roughly 1,190 coral islands that make up the Maldives are inhabited, with another 80 reserved exclusively for tourist resorts.

The Maldivian coral reefs are home to over a thousand species of fish, along with sea turtles, whales, dolphins, manta rays, octopus and a huge array of other marine creatures, ranging in size from giant whale sharks to the smallest crustaceans and species of plankton. To see the country’s incredible underwater landscapes, you can dive with a qualified instructor or snorkel.

The Maldives is also unique in that it’s one of the world’s lowest countries, with an average elevation of just 1.5 metres above sea level.

Local culture

Visiting local communities, many of which rely on age-old methods of fishing, is an excellent way to learn about the country’s unique culture and traditions. However, it’s important to be respectful of local norms. Remember that the Maldives is a Muslim country and dress appropriately.

You can get a taste of the rich Muslim heritage of the Maldives on the main island of Malé, visiting the country’s oldest mosque and, within the Islamic Centre, the impressive Grand Friday Mosque with its landmark gold dome.

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Holidays in the Maldives
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Top experiences not to miss

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    Diving or snorkelling in any of the incredible sites along the coral reefs; in many places, the water is so clear you can see for distances of over 40 metres, and it’s so warm that divers often don’t wear wetsuits.

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    Swimming and enjoying water sports in sun-warmed lagoons.

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    Touring some of the world’s most beautiful islands on a traditional boat known as a dhoni; you can stop off at pristine, uninhabited beaches and small fishing villages.

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    Visiting the Old Friday Mosque in Malé; this is the oldest mosque in the country, dating back to 1656, and is made from coral stone that has been intricately chiselled with Quranic writings.