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South Asia - Maldives

Maldives is an archipelago of 1,192 coral islands grouped into 26 coral atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts) in the Indian Ocean. The country embraces travelers from around the world to visit and enjoy the Maldives resorts, allowing them the freedoms holiday makers require, without compromising the islands' deep Muslim faith. The Maldivians are greatly interested in global climatic changes and sea level rise, as the country's highest point is about 8 feet (about 2.4 meters) above sea level.

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An Introductory video to the Maldives - the sunny side of life - Courtesy of A group of snorkelers and divers hovering and swimming with a majestic whale shark in Maamigili dive site located at the South Ari Atoll in the Maldives - Courtesy of

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Travel Information  Travel Information

Practically all visitors arrive at Male International Airport. The airport is served by a wide array of flights to China, India, Sri Lanka, Dubai and major airports in South-East Asia, as well as an increasing number of charters from Europe. British Airways now flies directly from London Gatwick to Male 3 times a week (Sunday, Tuesday and Friday), and Singapore Airlines flies daily direct from Singapore to Male, with late night timings. There are no regular passenger boats to the Maldives. Even yachts usually steer clear, as navigating around the reefs is hazardous and permits are expensive.

Getting around in the Maldives takes three forms: boats, sea planes (air taxis) and private yachts. The boats are the Maldivian equivalent of a car, while planes and private yachts are mainly reserved for tourists.

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History: The early history of Maldives is obscure. According to Maldivian legend, a Sinhalese prince named KoiMale was stranded with his bride--daughter of the king of Sri Lanka--in a Maldivian lagoon and stayed on to rule as the first sultan.

Over the centuries, the islands have been visited and their development influenced by sailors from countries on the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean littorals. Mopla pirates from the Malabar Coast--present-day Kerala state in India--harassed the islands. In the 16th century, the Portuguese subjugated and ruled the islands for 15 years (1558-73) before being driven away by the warrior-patriot Muhammad Thakurufar Al-Azam.

Although governed as an independent Islamic sultanate for most of its history from 1153 to 1968, Maldives was a British protectorate from 1887 until July 26, 1965, which is now annually marked as Independence Day. In 1953, there was a brief, abortive attempt at a republican form of government, after which the sultanate was re-imposed. Following independence from Britain in 1965, the sultanate continued to operate for another 3 years. On November 11, 1968, it was abolished and replaced by a republic, and the country assumed its present name.

Weather: The weather in the Maldives is usually picture perfect: sunlit days, breezy nights, balmy mornings, and iridescent sunsets. The temperature hardly ever changes - which makes packing for your holiday an easy task. With the average temperature at about 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year, the sun is a constant on most days. However, rainfall increases considerably during the April-October southwest monsoon, particularly from June to August.

Customs/VISA: Everybody gets a free 30-day visa on arrival, provided that they have a valid travel document, a ticket out and proof of sufficient funds, defined as either a confirmed reservation in any resort or US$25/day in cash. This can be extended up to 90 days at Male, but you'll need to indicate where you're staying for that long. Importing alcohol, pork or pornography (very broadly defined) into the Maldives is forbidden and all luggage is X-rayed on arrival. On the way out, note that exporting sand, seashells or coral is also forbidden.

Currency: Maldivian Rufiyaa (MRF) is the official currency of the Maldives, however US$ is widely accepted throughout the hospitality industry and in Male.

Famous People: Mohamed Nasheed, ousted president of Maldives, who is the focus of the 2011 movie The Island President.

Immunization: Visitors to the Maldives do not require any vaccinations or medications against Malaria before travelling to the Maldives unless they are coming from a yellow fever infected area.

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