The Maldives or the Republic of Maldives is an island that is situated in the Indian Ocean. It lies near the Sri Lankan Coast and is made up of almost 1,200 islets, with only 200 of which are inhabited. The country is home to many of the most colorful and interesting fish and wildlife species in the world. It also offers a scenic backdrop for a wide range of activities and water sports, making it a great holiday destination.

The Maldives was formerly a Sultanate that was under Dutch and English protection and is now a republic. The country was ruled with an iron fist for a long time by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Finally, free and fair elections were held in 2008, giving way to the new leadership of Mohamed Nasheed.

The official language of the country is Maldivian Dhivehi. It is closely related to the language spoken in Sri Lanka which is known as Sinhala. It also has many borrowings from Hindi, Arabic, Urdu and many other languages. It is written using Thaana, a hybrid script that uses Arabic and Indic numbers. English is also widely spoken, especially by the officials of the government and the people who are working in the tourism sector.

Majority of the citizens of the Maldives are Sunni Muslim. The country's local culture is also a rich mixture of Sinhalese, South Indian and Arab influences. Alcohol, pork, dogs are prohibited on the inhabited islands; however, since most of the resorts are on islands of their own, they are allowed to serve them. Another important thing to note is that weekends in the Maldives run from Fridays to Saturdays, on which many shops, banks and government offices are closed.

The Maldives is considered as a tropical country, offering plenty of sunshine and an average temperature of about 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. However, rainfalls are usually experienced from the months of April through October.

The country was greatly affected by the tsunami of December 2004, which caused extensive damage to its citizens and properties. Over 29,000 were left homeless and economic damage was estimated as US$470 million. The natural disaster emphasized the vulnerability of the country to global warming and other environmental issues.

Hotels can be found in Male, the capital city of the Maldives; however outside of the city, there are only resorts. A majority of the resorts are situated on their own island, giving guests and tourists the opportunity to relax and enjoy in their own private piece of the beach.

The resorts on the Maldives feature a wide range of themes and are generally classified as dive resorts, holiday resorts or luxury resorts.

Dive resorts are primarily designed for divers and for individuals who would like to spend most of their time in the water. This means that these resorts have limited facilities on land; however, they usually do have an excellent house reefs.

For those who are traveling with their family or friends, holiday resorts would be the best option. These resorts are large and have a wide array of facilities such as restaurants; however, they offer less privacy and lack luxurious features.

Honeymooners and travelers who are prepared to spend for nothing but the best accommodations would be best off with luxury resorts. These resorts offer rooms and suites with designer furniture, trendy amenities and many other exclusive privileges.

Scuba diving is the primary activity that tourists can engage in. Because the country has atolls which are all coral reefs and are situated hundreds of kilometers from the nearest major landmass, tourists would be able to enjoy scuba diving in crystal clear waters and experience the diverse underwater life.

More than 20 different whale and dolphin species can be seen in the Maldives, which is why it is another reason why tourists flock to this tropical paradise. Some of the species that can be seen here would include the sperm whale, the blue whale and the spinner dolphin. Many families who are traveling with young children usually make it a point to add this to itinerary when they visit the island.

Aside from scuba diving, fishing is another popular activity in the Maldives. Through renting a boat, tourists can go fishing in the deep blue waters and expect to catch any of the hundreds of fish species in the waters of the Maldives.

There are also plenty of water sports activities that are available in the Maldives. Some of the water sports that visitors can enjoy would be surfing, sailing, wake boarding, snorkeling, water skiing, parasailing, knee boarding and kite surfing. Most of the resorts offer rental gear for these and other water sports activities.

Photo: Maldives Wallpaper Backgrounds from WallpaperWeb
Biyadoo Resort Hotel
Bandos Island Resort & Spa Hotel
Angaga Island Resort Hotel
Vilamendhoo Island Hotel
Fihalhohi Resort Hotel