The Maldives (formerly called the Maldive Islands) were first settled
in the 5th century B.C. by Buddhist seafarers from India and Sri
Lanka. According to tradition, Islam was adopted in A.D. 1153. Originally
the islands were under the suzerainty of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
They came under British protection in 1887 and were a dependency
of then-colony Ceylon until 1948. An independence agreement with
Britain was signed July 26, 1965. For centuries a sultanate, the
islands adopted a republican form of government in 1952, but the
sultanate was restored in 1954. In 1968, however, as the result
of a referendum, a republic was again established in the recently
independent country. Ibrahim Nasir, the authoritarian president
since 1968, was removed from office and replaced by the more progressive
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 1978. Gayoom was elected to a sixth five-year
term in 2003.
afar they look like hundreds of little white pearls scattered in
the infinite blue of the Indian Ocean.
are not enough words to describe this small paradise, where the
sea and nature can be found in its uncontaminated form. It’s
all that one expects it to be and more……
islands of the Maldives form a double alignment of large atolls,
like an extended beacon which points towards the direction of the
The archipelago is situated in the Indian Ocean, one part in the
north and the other in the south of the equator. The chain of atolls
lies between 7°6’30” of latitude north and 0°41’48”
of latitude south and between 72°32’30” and 73°45’54” of longitude east.
The Maldives are made up of 26 atolls, extending in the north-south
direction for about 764 km and east-west for about 128 km. The archipelago
is about 595 km from India in the north direction, about 670 km
from Sri Lanka in the north-west direction and about 550 km from
the Chagos islands in the south direction.
The atolls are formed by a circular coral reef, bound by an internal
lagoon in which numerous islands of various dimensions are situated.
The 26 atolls include a total of 1.190 coral islands covered by
There has always been confusion about the total number of the Maldivian
islands, which depends on the fact that being continuously exposed
to the wind, waves and strong marine currents, they are always re-evolving:
some disappear and others are created by the force of nature.
In any way, apart from the islands covered by vegetation, if we
also consider the coral islands without vegetation, the total number
reaches 2.000. The Maldivian territory occupies a total surface
distance of about 90.000 km²
Since 1965, the Maldives is a presidential republic of the Islamic
On Dec. 26,
2004, a tremendously powerful tsunami in the Indian Ocean devastated
12 Asian countries. The Maldives reported 82 deaths and suffered
enormous damage: 14 of the archipelago's islands became uninhabitable,
requiring its inhabitants to be permanently evacuated, and another
79 islands were left without safe drinking water. Parliament voted
in June 2005 to shift to a multiparty democracy.