About the Maldives
The Maldives is an independent island nation located in the Indian Ocean. Its formal name is Republic of Maldives. The Republic of Maldives is comprised of 26 atolls which have almost 2,000 islands among them. The nation has a population of approximately 425,000 people.
The capital of the republic is Malé, which has a population of 130,000. Interestingly, the word 'Maldives' simply means "Islands of Malé". The city of Malé is located on the similarly named island of Malé, found in the Kaafu atoll.
The original inhabitants of the Maldives were likely peoples from or near India, such as the Tamils and Sinhalese. Around 500 - 200 B.C., Buddhism expanded into the islands, and remained the prominent religion until the 12th century. In the 12th century, a Buddhist king named Dhovemi, or Donei Kalaminjaa, converted to Islam after the religion was introduced to the island by Muslim traders. The nation has remained Islamic to this day, and conversion to Islam is required in order for a person to acquire citizenship.
The country was a sultanate from the 12th century to the mid 20th century, when it first became a republic in 1953. It briefly transitioned back to a sultanate before becoming a republic again in 1968.
There are over 2,000 kinds of saltwater fish and five species of turtle in the Maldives. Eels, stingrays, and whale sharks live in the reefs. The deeper waters sustain over 20 kinds of dolphins and whales. Octopus and squid are the primary mollusks. The Maldives' main echinoderms are sea urchins, starfish, and sea cucumbers. Its bird population is comprised of migratory shorebirds including terns, frigatebirds, and herons. Few land mammals live in the Maldives, but there are several geckos and lizards. Its plant life includes sprawling vegetation and coconut trees.
One beach on Mudhdhoo Island in the Baa Atoll, is at times lit up by bioluminescent ostracod crustaceans.
The Republic of Maldives is the flattest and lowest nation above sea level on Earth. The average height above sea level is just 4 feet, and the highest point is 7 feet a.s.l. For this reason, the Maldives are very susceptible to the danger of rising sea levels. The Maldives' natural landscape includes shallow coastal beds, deep seas, mangroves, sandy shorelines, inner lagoons, and offshore coral reefs. Over 185 kinds of coral form the country's reefs.
In addition to aesthetic appeal, the Maldives' natural resources have economic value. Nearly 30 percent of the country's income comes from tourism, which brings in over 12 million visitors each year. Commercial fishing accounts for 15 percent of the annual GDP, and the fishing industry employs 30 percent of the population. Although no longer used as currency, coconut fibers remain a top export. Some manufacturing industries, including printing, clothing production, and brick-making, have emerged in recent years.
The temperature of the Maldives is mild, with temperatures generally ranging from highs of 90°F (32.2°C) to lows of 75°F (23.9°C) year round. The rainy season spans from September to December when the winter monsoon arrives. The rest of the year is drier except for a span in May - June when a monsoon from the south hits. Some rain occurs almost daily though, no matter what time of year it is.
Snorkeling and diving are extremely popular activity to view the amazing coral reefs and amazing underwater wildlife. Paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking are also fantastic ways to explore the atolls.
Best Time to Visit Maldives
The best time to visit depends on a person's interests. December through April is considered the "high season", where the country is more crowded than usual and rental rates are higher. May through November will have slightly lower temperatures, but have lower rates and less crowds.
The climate is tropical year round. More rain occurs in May and June due to the southern monsoon, and again in September through December from the northern monsoon. December and January are the coolest months with an average high of 86°F (30°C). March and April are the warmest months with average highs of 88°F (31°C).
Speedboats and ferries are the "train system" of the Maldives.
Know Before Visiting
The Republic of Maldives is a Sharia compliant Islamic country. Items such as pork, Bibles and alcohol are not allowed when entering the country. ATMs are scarce after leaving the capital of Male so ensure that you carry enough cash to get you through your trip.
The official language is Dhivehi but many of the citizens also speak and understand English.
Types D and G
Currencies accepted include the US Dollar ($), the Euro (€) and the Maldivian Rufiyaa (ރ). The local currency is used less than the former two.
The Hawksbill Turtle is a critically endangered sea turtle that can be found in various oceans around the world. They are one of the more frequently seen sea turtle in the Maldives, and are identified by their hooked beaks.
Oriental Garden Lizard
Like the chameleon, the oriental garden lizard can change its colors - to a certain extant. They are often seen hanging out on tree branches, and feed on insects, rodents and other lizards.
Pteropus hypomelanus maris
Also known as variable or small flying foxes, these bats have wingspans that approach 4 feet. They can be seen feeding on fruit, flower or nectar high in the trees, and flying from treetop to treetop.
The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean. They are about 700 km (435 mi) to the south-southeast of India, and about 830 km (515 mi) to the east-southeast of Sri Lanka.
Velana International Airport (also known as Malé International Airport) is located on Hulhulé Island, next to the island of Malé. It is the main gateway to the republic, serving approximately 1.2 Million passengers each year. Many cities offer direct flights to Velana International, including Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad in India, and other southeast Asian cities such as Columbo, Sri Lanka.
Upon arrival, there are a number of ways to get from the airport to the island of Malé or other atolls within the nation. Several companies offer sea planes from the airport, such as Trans Maldivian Airways or Maldivian Air Taxi. Speedboats and ferries are also available at the airport. The ferry schedule can be found at the Malé Airport website, located here.
Many of the same methods are used to get around the rest of the nation as well, although schedules and methods will be more sporadic depending on your location and destination.