Ministry of Tourism,
Boduthakurafaan Magu Male 20-05
Republic of the Maldives
Tel: (960) 323224, Fax: (960) 322512


Physical geography

The Maldives is a string of 1,190 low lying coral islands scattered across the equator southwest of Sri Lanka. This is a rare vision of tropical paradise with its wind-blown palm trees, sparkling white beaches, turquoise lagoons, clear warm waters and coral reefs, plentiful with abundant varieties of marine flora and fauna.

The 1,190 islands which rarely reach a height above two metres, consisting of a formation of 26 atolls, are spread over 90,000 square kilometres. Out of this tropical vegetation covered islands, 74 are set aside exclusively for tourist resort development. Only 199 islands are inhabited and over 900 islands are still left untouched.


It is a tropical warm climate all year round; average temperature varies between a maximum of 30.4°C and minimum of 25.4°C. The Maldives has two seasons: southwest season (May-October) which brings occasional rain showers and moderate to strong wind (no cyclones occur), and the northwest season (November-April) which is the dry season with very little wind. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Economic geography</H3> The economy of the Maldives is mainly based on tourism and fishing. Tourism is situated in the central Male Atoll and Ari Atoll with easy access from the airport and other facilities. Fishing is a major occupation throughout the whole country, although some areas are more specialised and developed with fisheries and an industrial infrastructure. Agriculture on a limited scale features on Atolls and on some islands in the north and south the people depend mainly on agriculture. These are bigger islands with more land for farming. Boat building, carpentry, construction, masonry, handicraft, food processing, etc, are informal and formal occupations on many islands throughout the archipelago. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> The total population is 256,165 (1996). The population growth rate is estimated at 2.8 in 1995. The male/female ration is 105:100. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> There is historical and archaeological evidence indicating the Maldives Islands to have been inhabited for over 5,000 years. There are also indications that, being on an important trade route, the Maldives was settled by people all over the world. This leaves the origin of the Maldives lost in mystery. <P>The Maldives became a British Protectorate at the turn of the century and regained its full sovereignty in 1965. However, there was never a significant British presence in the archipelago. The newly independent country changed from a Sultanate to a Republic on 11 November 1968. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religion</H3> Maldavians were Buddhists until 1553 AD when they converted to Islam. The religious practices and beliefs of the Maldavian people are influenced by their culture and heritage. Thus the Shafi sect of Islam that is practised in the Maldives is more tolerant and moderate than other interpretations of religion even in the same region. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> The Maldivian language, Dhiveli, is spoken throughout the Islands. It is mainly based on old Pali and Sanskrit. Dhiveli also shows a strong Arabic influence. Old Maldavian script has undergone several changes and the modern script is written from right to left. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> Five hours ahead of GMT. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> The monetary unit used in the Maldives is the Maldivian ruffiya which is divided into 100 Laaris. US$1 = approx 13 ruffiya. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays</H3> 1 January, New Years Day - 1 Ramazan, Beginning of the fasting month (lunar calendar, Eith'r Bid Day & following two days, End of the fasting month - Hajj Day, (lunar calendar) - Al'haa Eid Day & following three days, ending of the pilgrimage - 1 Muharram (lunar calendar), Islamic New Years Day - 1 Rabeeul Awwal (lunar calendar), Prophet Mohammed's Birthday - 26 July and following two days, Independence Day - 3 Jumaadal Aakhira (lunar calendar), Huravec Day - 3 November, Victory Day - 11 November, Republic Day - 1 Shau'baan, Martyr's day - Opening of Citizens' Majlis (as announced. All Fridays and Saturdays. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> The Islamic Centre, Hururu Kiskiiy, Minaert, Medh Ziyaaraiy, Mulee-aage, Sultan poark & the Museum, Tomb of Mohammed Thakurufaanu, Jumhooree Maihaan, Fish Market and Presidential Palace. <P>Village life and craftsmanship. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Most favourable season for sojourns and touring</H3> Climatic conditions in the Maldives are clean and safe throughout the year. For sailing and surfing the period May-October may be the best with better wind conditions. For crystal clear, calm waters the best period is November to April. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> Light cotton clothing is advisable as Maldives is war, Shorts, T-shirts, skirts and blouses are minimum requirements when visiting Male or any other inhabited island. When entering a mosque, the legs and the body should be adequately covered. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday resorts</H3> There are 74 resort islands in the Maldives. Every island is an individual resort hotel meeting at least a minimum standard set by the Ministry of Tourism. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Diving, fishing, parasailing, snorkelling and a wide variety of water sports. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> A traditional Maldivian meal includes rice, fish curry made with coconut milk, and spicy side dishes made of lime, chilli and onions. Fruits like banana, papaya and mango are a good finish to the perfect Maldivian meal. Chinese, Thai, continental, Indian and Middle Eastern buffets are widely available in resorts and restaurants in male. Some typical Maldivian tea shops also provide an insight into Maldivian cuisine. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to buy</H3> Hand-made souvenirs and jewellery are good bargains in the Maldives. The multi-coloured sarongs and hand-printed T-shirts are always in the shops. Maldivian speciality crafts such as lacquer and Gadhdhoo mats are available. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> <H3>Passports and visas</H3> All visitors must have a valid passport. A tourist visa of 30 days is given to all visitors with valid travel documents. <H3>Health regulation</H3> For visitors coming from yellow fever infected areas, an international certificate of inoculation is required. <H3>Customs</H3> Import of port and alcoholic products is not permitted without a licence. Explosives, weapons, narcotics and pornography are prohibited. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> The five domestic airports situated in different parts of the country make it easier and faster to travel. Helicopters and seaplanes also operate from Male to all the resorts. Apart from flying the only mode of transportation is by sea. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Overseas offices</H3> Singapore: Maldivian Government Trade Centre, 10 Anson Rd, 18-12 International, Tel: (65) 22 58955, 225 8829, 24 2095, Fax: (65) 224 6050. <P>London: Maldivian Government Trade Representative's Office, 22, Nottingham Place, London W1M 4AT, Tel: (44) 171 224 2135, Fax: (44) 171 224 2157. <P>New York: Permanent Mission of Maldives to the United Nations, 820 Second Avenue, Suite 800-c, New York, NY 10017, USA <P>Colombo: High Commission of the Maldives, 25 Melbourn Avenue, Colombo 4, Sri Lanka, Tel: (94) 1-586762, 580076, 500943, Fax: (94) 1-581200 <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <BR><I>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on the Maldives thanks to the co-operation of the Ministry of Tourism. <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>