Edited by Anis Chowdhury and Wahiduddin Mahmud
Chapter 7: The Maldives
Mamta Chowdhury Introduction The Maldives, whose islands are popularly known as the ‘pearls of the Indian Ocean’, is located south of Lakshadweep Islands, about 480 km southwest of Cape Comorin, India and 650 km southwest of Sri Lanka. The country comprises of 1190 low-lying small coral reef islands, grouped in 26 natural atolls, stretching 820 km north to south and 120 km east to west. These 26 atolls are organized into 19 administrative units with the capital island Malé. Only 200 islands are inhabited, with 88 islands used as exclusive resorts. The climate of the country is humid and warm and mainly governed by southwest and northeast monsoons. The temperature stays around 29 to 32º C. Precipitation is on average 160–230 cm a year. The Maldives enjoys very clear water around it due to the nonexistence of rivers and run-oﬀ carrying sediments from inland, which facilitate the ideal conditions for coral growth. The capital city Malé stretches over an area of 4 km. According to the census of 2005 the population of the country is around 349 106. The population is relatively young, with 43 per cent of population under 15 years and only 3 per cent over 65 years of age. The citizens of the country are known as Maldivians, and two-thirds of the population live in Malé. The annual average growth rate of the population was 2.8 per cent over 2001 to 2005 and is falling quite rapidly over the recent years. Since the country has more...
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