Maldives is a tropical country located in the Indian Ocean. Its low-lying coral islands are only 1.8 metres (6ft) above sea level, making the nation susceptible to rising sea levels associated with climate change. Its economy is dominated by tourism, which brings in about half of its annual tax revenue.

Maldivians are renowned as skilled craftsmen. Their intricate stone carvings in the Friday Mosque in Male, for example, are a testament to their heritage and a symbol of their cultural pride. Lacquer ware is a popular form of art as well as Kunaa mats, which are hand-woven from dried coconut husks.

Traditional Maldivian foods are influenced by cultures from all over the world. The cuisine is mainly based on fish, coconut and taro. In addition, spices and influences from India, Sri Lanka and Arabia have contributed to the varied culinary traditions of the Maldives.

In recent years the Maldives has undergone a significant political transformation. In 2008, a constitution was adopted that established greater governmental checks and balances and introduced a multiparty political system. This has helped to stabilize the political climate in the nation, though many of the issues that arose in Gayoom’s reign remain unresolved.

The majority of Maldivians are Sunni Muslims. Visitors should dress modestly and refrain from displaying religious symbols, particularly crosses. Men should cover their shoulders and wear long pants or shorts, and women should dress in clothing that covers their knees and torso.

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