Maldives

The Maldives is a tropical country of 26 atolls containing hundreds of islands spread across an area of 90,000 square kilometres. The North and South Atolls are home to most of the resorts on the country, with the North having the best surfing spots and the South offering the best diving and snorkelling opportunities.

The majority of the Maldivians live in villages on smaller islands in the scattered atolls. In addition to these, many people live in the capital, Male. Maldivian culture has a strong South Asian influence due to the long association with India and Sri Lanka. Music and dance reflect these influences, as well as a rich tradition of Islam.

Maldivian society pays respect to the elderly and promotes a close bond between immediate and extended family members. Women are accorded a dignified role in the community and maintain their maiden names after marriage. Polygamy is rare. Prostitution is illegal and homosexuality is punishable.

In the early 21st century, the government of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom launched a wide range of reforms aimed at modernizing the economy and democratising the political system. These reforms were largely successful, and the 2008 constitution established greater governmental checks and balances and allowed for multi-party politics.

Tourists are a major source of revenue and the services sector accounts for four-fifths of GDP. Most visitors arrive via the main Velana International Airport located in the capital city, Male. From here, resorts often arrange speedboat transfers or seaplane flights directly to the jetty of your destination island. A traditional Maldivian boat, called a dhoni, can also be hired to get to the more remote atolls.

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