Quick Facts: Maldives
- The Maldives covers an area of 806km South West of Sri Lanka and India.
- Made up of a chain of 1200 coral islands and grouped into 26 atolls
- The region has a mixed economic system in which the economy includes a variety of business and fiscal freedom
- The Maldives economy relies on Tourism and fisheries catering for the top end of the tourist market
- Male is the capital of Maldives
- To enter Maldives no pre-arrival visa is required. A thirty day free visa is issued on arrival for all NationalitiesNone of the coral islands measures more than 1.8m above sea level
Described by Marco Polo as the flower of the indies and often referred to as one of the wonders of the world, The Maldives is unique in every way. Consisting of 26 atoll formations and spread out over a 1 000 000m2 km.
Most of the islands remain uninhabited and are all surrounded by coral house reefs. Hailed as one of the dive capitals of the world and host to a large fraternity of marine life that lives in harmony with the tourism industry and local inhabitants.
Originally ruled by Kings and Queens, the islands position on the major sea routes made her a strategic location. Strong cultural and economic ties with India and Sri-Lanka still prevail and contribute much to their society. Her early wealth lay in cowrie shells which were widely used as a currency on the East African Coast and throughout Asia.
After the Dutch, French and Portuguese meddled with local with local politics in the 16th century, the Maldevian monarchs were granted self governance by the British during the 19th century after becoming a British protectorate. The region gained total independence from Britain in 1965.
The region has a mixed economy based on activities of tourism, shipping and tourism. Tourism is the largest industry of the Maldives. Fishing comes in second, with agriculture third. Industry in the form of boatbuilding, garment production and handicrafts contribute 18% to the GDP.
Brief introduction to the Inner islands of the Group:
Of the 1,900 islands that make up the Maldives, a mere 198 are inhabited. The population is well distributed throughout the country, with the greatest concentration being on the capital island, Male. Stretching for over 2000 kilometres the atolls are part of a structure known as the Laccadives-Chagos Ridge.
The ring shaped reef structures form the atolls naturally create a defence from wind and wave action and originate from a chain of volcanoes that slowly submerged causing coral growth to create the steep walls of the islands drop off into the abyss.
The reefs of the Maldives can be grouped according to the geological formation of the structure and are either Channels, Farus, Thilas or Giris.
Activities and special interests for visitors to the Maldives
The Indian Ocean provides the nation with their principal staple and source of protein, fish. Their cooking style combines European and Asian elements. The region is ideal for cultivating tropical fruits which include bananas, coconuts, mangoes, oranges, grapefruits, pineapples, avocado, lemons and limes. They make for great ingredients in sauces, curry’s and generally are used with seafood combined with coconut and coconut milk.
The region has two distinct seasons and is blessed with very moderate weather conditions. The northeast monsoon begins in November and runs through April which is their dry season. Beginning in May and lasting until October, they experience their wet or rainy season which still enjoys plenty of sunshine with sea temperatures only dipping by 2 degrees.
With an abundance of deserted atolls and sandpits and year round calm seas, the Maldives offers sailors an ideal region to explore by catamaran or super yacht. Motor yacht
With such a rich store of plankton feeding the house reefs off each of the islands the free and scuba diving is rated as some of the best in the Indian Ocean Islands. With so many isolated and deserted reefs, and a huge territory, the variety is astounding. This brings in pelagic species close to shore and includes manta's, whale sharks and an abundance of turtles.
Due to the calm seas and excellent visibility, the region is also ideal for underwater photography. With currents sweeping in between between the islands drift dives are very popular and for the beginner a brilliant array of tropical reef fish exist within the lagoon.
Two options exist for the recreational diver and come in the form of a live-aboard or dive resort. Most of the hotels offer a dive package and because of the unique marine topography, offer access to the house reefs only a short swim from the dive centres.
Combination surf & angling charters
Combination surf and dive charters are becoming increasingly popular on well equipped live-aboard motor yachts. Vessels depart Mahe and head towards the Southern region where brilliant year round surf conditions exist. Angling takes place from the mother ship or tender where spin or jigging are sure to attain brilliant results.