The Maldives are a tropical nation with world-class beaches, pristine coral reefs and a wide variety of luxuriant resorts. This archipelago, located on the edge of the Indian Ocean, is also a hub for scuba diving and snorkeling.

The culture of the Maldives has been shaped by its seafaring past. The island nation is a crossroads of influences from India, Sri Lanka, East Africa and Arabia. This is reflected in the cuisine, language and traditional arts such as lacquered wooden ornaments, finely woven reed mats and coral carvings.

Tourism is the main industry in the Maldives and a wide variety of resorts offer all-inclusive packages, making it easy to enjoy a luxurious holiday with a minimum of expenditure. The fisheries are the second largest sector and fresh tuna, snapper, lobster and a host of international cuisines can be sampled.

Many savoury dishes make use of tropical fruits, and the spicy and aromatic rihaakuru is the most distinctive ingredient. It is a concentrated fish paste that adds depth and umami to meat, vegetable and seafood dishes.

The capital city of Male is home to the Sultan Park and National Museum, where visitors can learn more about the country’s rich history. There is also a stark reminder of 30 years of rule by the autocratic Gayoom regime at the National Defence Force headquarters (Bandaara Koshi, Bandeyrige).

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