For a long time, the Republic of Maldives was one of the best-kept secrets in the world; a beautiful string of low-lying coral islands in the Indian Ocean, a paradise for watersports enthusiasts and sunseekers alike. Now the islands are developing quickly to become an increasingly popular long-haul destination.
The Maldives is situated in the South West of Sri Lanka, on the equator. The numerous coral reef islands, 1,190 in total, form an archipelago of 26 natural atolls (groups of neighbouring coral islands). These 26 atolls are organised into 19 administrative atolls with the capital island of Male established as an entity of its own forming the twentieth division. Seen from air, the atolls and the islands form breathtakingly beautiful patterns against the blue depths of the Indian Ocean.
The country's atolls offer nautical delights from night-fishing trips, windsurfing and scuba-diving. Many islands embrace enormous lagoons, where bright blue-green water laps gently.
Demographics and Stats
Little information is available on the ancient people and their way of life. Evidence suggests that The Maldives has been populated and thriving as early as the 4th century BC. It is argued that the earliest settlers migrated from Arabia, eastern Africa and the Indian subcontinent among other places. Not surprisingly, the faces of today's Maldivian display the features of various faces that inhabit the lands around the Indian Ocean shipping and maritime routes, the Maldives has long been a melting pot for African, Arab and South East Asian mariners.
Shopping is the favorite activity for the locals especially in the evenings, when it is cooler. The Majeedhee Magu, which is the main road on the island, has along its sides various shops selling goods from the smallest commodities to virtually everything you could think of. The shops are well stocked with garments, perfumes and cosmetics, jewelry, watches or electronics, to name just a few. Many find it a pleasant experience to join the throngs of shoppers on the main shopping streets in the evenings. All shops are open until 11.00 in the night, except for prayer times, when they are closed for 15 minutes.
|Maldivian Rufiya (MVR; symbol MRf) =
|Notes:||MRf 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5|
|Coins:||MRf 2 and 1, and 50, 25, 10, 5, 2 and 1 laari.|
|Credit cards:||American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa|
A number of companies operate seaplane and helicopter services around the Maldives. Island-hopping trips by ferries are widely available. Local charter boats are also easily available for hire. High-speed boats meet arrivals at the airport, supplied by the resort they are booked with, and boats are available for hire at the ferry counter near the jetty area. The speedboats connect the airport with Ari Atoll and some outlying islands.
Islands can be crossed on foot, and in Male it is possible to take taxi's.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers arriving from infected areas. A cholera vaccination certificate is not a condition of entry to the Maldives. Typhoid may occur, and vaccination is recommended. Malaria is disappearing, and the risk of infection is very low.
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Generally warm and humid with sunshine all year through. The average temperature is around 29 - 32 degrees Celsius. The hottest month on average is April and the coolest, December. February is the driest with January to April being relatively dry, May and October records the highest average monthly rainfall.