Maldives is a low lying island country in the Indian Ocean, it is 717 km from Sri Lanka and 430 km from India. There are 1190 islands which are dispersed over an area of 90000 square kilometers southwest of Sri Lanka. Every island is individual and separate from other islands, there is a lagoon or sea in between the islands.
Islands of Maldives are beautiful with white sandy beaches and clear water seas that fade away into the deep ocean blue. These are coral islands, in many islands the sand are soft and fine, in some other islands they are rocky and difficult to walk barefoot. Almost all islands have at least a part of the beach that has fine sand. Resorts are mainly developed in islands that have good quality beach and rich sea life.
|Coordinates:||between 7° 6′ 35″ and 0° 42′ 24″ south and between 72° 33′ 19″ and 73° 46′ 13″ east of Greenwich|
|Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ):||359,00sq km|
|Area:||118, 000 sq km (land = 298 sq km)|
|Number of Islands:||1,192 islands (inhabited = 199; uninhabited = 993) – out of which 87 are exclusive resort islands. The islands are grouped into 19 natural atolls – divided into 20 for administrative purposes|
|Capital:||Malé (population = 137,200)|
|Terrain:||Low lying small islands with flat terrain (average 1.2m above sea level)|
|Climate:||Sub-tropical, with two monsoons, hot, humid and dry in northeast monsoon (November to March) and rainy in southwest monsoon (June to August) Sun shines all year through. Average temperature around 29 – 32 degrees Celsius. Generally warm and humid.|
The Maldives is in the Indian Ocean off the south western coast of India in South Asia. The atolls are the tips of the submarine ridge Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive. The largest individual island is eight kilometres long. There are no rivers on the Maldives, but there are small lakes and marshes.
Each atoll has around five to 10 inhabited islands and from 20 to 60 uninhabited islands. There are also atolls that are a single island with a surrounding coral beach. The terrain is flat, white sandy beaches. The coastline is 644 kilometres.
The Flora Of The Maldives
The vegetation of Maldives is different in the uninhabited and inhabited islands. The inhabited islands have small plantations of banana, citrus trees, drumstick, yams, millet, watermelon, breadfruit trees, papaya and coconut palms. There is about ten per cent of the land that is used for taro, coconuts, bananas and other fruit, and only on the higher island of Fuvammula are pineapples and oranges grown. This is because the island is higher and the ground water is less susceptible to contamination from sea water.
The uninhabited islands mainly have grasses including bamboo and bushes growing on the waterline as well as densely covering the islands that may also have a few coconut trees. The banyan tree is the tallest tree on the islands, and the coconut palm is the Maldives national symbol. With highly alkaline soil and a deficiency in iron, nitrogen and potash, the agriculture possibilities are very limited.
Population and Economy
The islands have population of about 280,000 scattered over 200 islands. The capital Malé, which is not more than 3 sq. km. has a population of over 60,000 is located almost in the center of the archipelago. The population is young, 50% of the population is under 18 years of age and the population growth rate is 3.4%.
Being a country with more territorial sea than dry land, the Maldivians depend on resources almost entirely from the sea. The coral reefs which built the country play a vital role in the economic and social well-being of the country.
Fishing and tourism are the two main industries of Maldives. Both these industries are very healthy with good potential growth rates. They rely on healthy reefs for their existence. The majority of fish caught are tuna and tuna-related species. Other reef dependent species of fish and invertebrates are also exploited.
Fishery production increased from 82,000 MT in 1992 to over 104,000 MT in 1995. The export earnings from marine products has increased from RF 332 million in 1992 to RF 433 million in 1995 (1US$ = RF11.82). The reef fishery especially for the live food fish has increased tremendously from 320,000 nos. in 1994 to 400,000 nos. in 1995. Total fish production in 1996 was 105,000 MT of which reef fish landing for 1996 was 14,600 MT.
Income from tourism in 1993 amounted to 70 mill dollars. About 70 uninhabited islands are developed as tourist resorts and in 1996 there have been more than 300,000 visitors. Visitors are constrained by the number of beds available.
Environmental issues in the Maldives include a dwindling freshwater supply and inadequate sewage treatment. Estimates indicated that the nation’s water supply may be exhausted in the near future, and population increases have created a sanitation problem that threatens the waters surrounding this island nation. Another significant environmental problem is a rise in sea levels due to global warming. The islands are particularly susceptible to flooding.
Environmental preservation is complicated by the unique problems of a nation consisting of 1,200 islands spread over 510 miles of the Indian Ocean. Preservation of the desert island ecology, protection of marine life and coral reefs, and coconut tree rehabilitation are additional environmental goals. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included two species of birds, two types of reptiles, and eight species of fish. The hawksbill turtle, green turtle, and blue whale are on the endangered list.