We’ve all seen visuals of Maldives’ stunning islands and beaches. Indeed, it seems as though this archipelago belongs more to the ocean than the land. Every other celebrity and honeymooner is jet-setting to the coral paradise known for its romantic and secluded accommodations. But what continent is Maldives a part of, and why is it such a coveted travel destination?
Where is Maldives?
Maldives is a South-Asian country composed of 26 atolls, which together constitute 1,192 coral islands. It is the smallest country in the continent and has India and Sri Lanka to its north-west. The azure waters of Maldives are part of the Arabian Sea, and at 1.5 metres over the sea level, it is the most low-lying country in the world. That explains the feeling of being at sea the moment you land! The capital city is Malé, close to Malé International Airport, the main gateway for entering and leaving Maldives. The local language is Dhivehi but most people speak English as well.
What is its Story?
‘Maldives’ translates to ‘garland of islands’ in Tamil and Sanskrit. While the earliest settlers came from the Indian subcontinent, Maldives has a 1400 years-long history of Buddhism. Post the 12th century, the archipelago’s citizens converted to Islam, which is the main religion till date. After the 15th century, Maldives was colonialized by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and finally, the British. The country attained independence on 11 November 1968, and thereafter, tourism flourished. Currently, the sector accounts for over a quarter of Maldives’ GDP. 15 Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) make up one US dollar or euro.
Why Should you Visit Maldives?
The jewel of the Indian Ocean is home to countless, pristine white sand beaches, each more untouched and lovelier than the last. Chances are, the sea comes right to you with a private lap pool in your luxury suite. Resorts in Maldives are destinations unto themselves, and the perfect vantage point for enjoying shimmering sunsets and delicious cocktails.
Explore the warm waters on an exhilarating speed-boat ride, or dive right in and be confronted by colourful corals, varied fish and other aquatic species, and underwater caves. Other things to do in Maldives include shopping in Malé, visiting the Old Friday Mosque, and reliving history at the National Museum. Best of all, everyone visiting Maldives gets a free 30-day visa on arrival, so it’s the most effortless travel plan you can make.
What’s so Great About its Atolls?
An atoll is a circular reef or island cluster made of coral, and some of the most stunning specimens are to be found in Maldives. Huvadhu Atoll in southern Maldives consists of 255 islands, making it the largest atoll in the world by island number. In fact, the word ‘atoll’ comes from the Dhivehi ‘atholhu’. Endangered rays, sharks, and turtles, as also 1000 kinds of reef fish, and 250 types of coral exist in Baa Atoll, making it a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Other must-visit atolls in Maldives include North Malé Atoll, South Malé Atoll, Faafu Atoll, North Ari Atoll, and South Ari Atoll.