The Maldives, The pearls of the Indian Ocean, as it is popularly known, are 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 major atolls ( groups of neighbouring coral islands). Many of these tropical atolls and islands are simply gorgeous, with swaying palms, white sandy beaches and deep-blue lagoons; none of the islands rise higher than 7.8 ft. above sea level.
The Maldives was long a sultanate (a territory ruled by a sultan), first under Dutch control, and then under British protection. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965, and three years later, declared itself an independent republic.
The country stretches 820 km north to south and 120 km east to west.
Out of the incredibly large number of islands only 200 islands are inhabited, with 44 islands adapted as exclusive resort islands. The climate is generally warm and humid. Sun shines all year through with average temperature around 29 – 32 degrees Celsius.
Being on the Equator, the country enjoys more or less constant day lengths (6am – 6 pm) throughout the year. People wake up early in the morning. Business hours are from Sunday to Thursday 8 – 4 in the government sector, and generally from 9:00 to 5:00 in the private sector. Weekend falls on Friday and Saturday. The local time is GMT +5hours.
Over the last few decades the Maldives has transformed itself into a popular fishing, scuba diving, surfing and exotic resort and spa destination.