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About the Travel

general info

The Republic of the Maldives is a chain of around 1200 islands stretching 750km across the Indian Ocean. The exact number of islands varies according to the season and method of classification - islands come and go with the wind, waves and currents!

The tiny islands are geographically grouped into ring shaped reefs called "atolls" and there are 26 of these atoll formations. The outer reef, which forms many of the islands, is often broken by deep channels that allow oceanic water to flow into and out of the central lagoon.

Of the 1200 islands only 200 are inhabited by local Maldivian people, 88 islands have been developed as tourist resorts and the remaining islands are uninhabited. Inhabited islands are either tourist resorts or inhabited by locals and it is a Government ruling that there can be no combination of the two.

While there are 26 geographical atolls, tourists are most likely to see just 11 of these as the Maldivian Government has taken steps to restrict the impact of tourism on the local community. Tourists can only be accommodated on registered tourist islands with quite strict regulations governing tourist visits to uninhabited and fishing islands. The tourist development area has been restricted to the seven atolls of North Male, South Male, Ari, Felidhu, Baa, Lhaviyani and Addu Atoll. In 1997 the Government announced the proposed development of 14 new islands opening the atolls of Meemu, Faafu, Dhaalu and Raa to tourism.

The People
The Maldives has been a crossroads for sea traders for many centuries and the origin of the people of the country is mixed. Not much is known of the early history of the island people but the language and some archaeological finds of Buddhist relics indicate that the early settlers were from the southern Indian continent and the Buddhist Sinhalese from Sri Lanka. Now, of course, the Maldives population of 240,000 is entirely Muslim.

There is no party political system in the Maldives: the citizens Majlis (parliament) comprises 48 members, two elected from each atoll and eight nominated by the President. The president himself is nominated by the citizens' Majlis and elected by public referendum for a renewable five year period; the president then appoints his own cabinet.

Protection against foreign influences, however, comes from a desire to exist as their fathers had, in a close-knit society; a national 'family' that is close to Allah. Like the coral reefs that protect the islands, Maldivians maintain a commitment to keep their own world to themselves, to maintain the Maldivian culture and to protect it from the sometimes negative effects of outsiders.
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