The Republic of Maldives is a tropical island country in South Asia in the Arabian Sea in the Indian Ocean. Southwest of India and Sri Lanka, its 26 ring-shaped atolls are comprised of 1,192 coral islands. The nation is popular for its blue crystal clear lagoons, white sand beaches, reefs, its capital city of Malé with a busy fish market as well as restaurants and shops, its carved white coral Friday Mosque, and more.
This is the smallest Asian country in both land area and population. Spanning roughly 115 square miles, it is the most geographically dispersed country in the world. It is atop a vast submarine mountain range of live coral reefs and is also the lowest country in the world with its ground-level being 4 feet 11 inches above sea level and its highest natural point being 7 feet 10 inches. The population estimate in 2016 was 427,756 residents.
The largest industry is tourism, which accounts for 28 percent of their GDP and over 60 percent of its foreign exchange receipts. More than 90 percent of the government’s tax revenue comes from tourism-related taxes and import duties. The second leading sector is fishing. After a devastating earthquake and tsunami in December of 2004,the country was eventually able to recover quickly with reconstruction and development of new resorts.
Tourism gave a boost to the fledgling cottage industries of handicrafts, coir rope making, lacquerware, delicately woven reed mats, and items made from dried coconut leaves. Edible souvenirs are tins of Maldives tuna, packets of delicious beach almonds, and sun-dried fish chips. Newer industries include marine engine repairs, production of PVC pipes, brick making, garment production, bottling of aerated water, and printing.
Every resort organizes entertainment and daily excursions that include fishing, sailing, dolphin and whale watching, cruising to deserted islands for picnics and swimming or to shopping in the inhabited islands. Experience watching marine life through a snorkel, take a trip on a glass-bottom boat, comb the beaches and see the footprints of sea birds and trails in the sand from turtles who came ashore in the night to lay eggs, enjoy local gourmet cuisine in a seaside cafe, and much more.
Certain resorts cater specifically to guests who like to party at night with entertainment by visiting DJs and bands. Approximately 50 resorts have night clubs for karaoke, entertainment, and dancing.
The favorite sport of the locals is football. Some larger resorts and inhabited islands have full-sized football pitches where competitive matches are played and watched. Also popular is a multi-purpose court where a version of football called futsal as well as badminton and volleyball are played by staff and sometimes guests. Other sports are basketball, baseball, netball, beach volleyball, tennis, table tennis, and billiards at most resorts.
If golfing is your thing, there is a nine-hole golf course at a resort in Seenu Atoll in the southernmost atoll with par three and par four holes, a resort north of Male’ in Lhaviyani Atoll with a full-size driving range and a large putting green as well as a par-three six-hole course, a resort n South Ari Atoll with a putting green, and one in North Male’ Atoll with a driving range and a pitch and putt course.