Located just one degree south of the equator, Maldives lies in the tropics and has a year-round warm climate. Its tropical location, however, means that there is a large variation in temperature and rainfall between seasons due to the country’s position within the path of the two yearly monsoon systems.

The name of Maldives is thought to derive from the word for garland, as a reference to its island beauty and unique ring-shaped formations. The Maldivian people are known as Dhivehin, and the language is Maldivian although English is widely spoken. The religion is Islam and it is illegal to practice any other faith.

A large percentage of the population live in Male, the capital of the Maldives. In addition, many islands have a local community. In recent years there has been rapid growth in tourism, which is the primary source of income for most islands.

Other sources of income are agriculture, coconut cultivation and fishing. The majority of the population are Muslim, although there are also Christians and Hindus. The main languages are Maldivian and English, but the most common spoken is Divehi.

There are many places to try out the delicious local cuisine. Some resorts, such as Soneva Jani, even have special food rooms, like the amazing ice cream room which offers over 68 different flavors of ice cream! Popular fast foods include Gulha – small round fish balls stuffed with tuna and coconut, Bajiya – crunchy, golden samosas filled with smoked tuna onion mixture and Mushimas – fried scads seasoned and deep fried. For something sweeter, try a dish of Dhonkeylu Harissa – breadfruit curry.

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