The Maldives is often cited as an example for the effects of climate change due to the nature of our low-lying landmass; however, people also talk of our picturesque beaches and clear crystal waters. There is still a lot people don’t know about the Maldives. Though we may be a small island nation, we are a force to be reckoned with.
In February 2011, WWF, an organisation that has been operating for nearly 50 years in protecting the future of nature, announced on their Travel Blog, ten interesting facts about the Maldives. They are as follows:
- In terms of geography, the Maldives is one of the most dispersed countries in the world, despite being Asia’s smallest country in terms of population and land area. Its coral atolls encompass a territory spread across approximately 90,000 square kilometres.
- Sitting an average of just 4 feet 11 inches above sea level, the Maldives are also the Earth’s lowest country. In fact, more than 80 per cent of the islands sit less than 3.2 feet above sea level. With sea levels having risen approximately 8 inches in the past century, according to widely accepted studies, the Maldives are thus at great risk from climate change.
- The highest point in the Maldives is on Vilingili Island in the Addu Atoll. It’s 7 feet 11 inches above sea level.
- Only 200 of the Maldives’ 1,192 islets are inhabited.
- More than 2,000 species of fish have been identified in the waters surrounding the Maldives. Approximately 300 species are reef fish, including seven species not previously identified elsewhere in the world’s seas.
- Historically, one of the Maldives’ biggest exports was coir, the fibre of the dried coconut husk that was spun and twisted into ropes. Thanks to its strength and resistance to saltwater, the rope was exported to places as far away as the Middle East. They also exported cowry shells and dried tuna fish.
- The adult literacy rate on the 300,000-person islands is nearly 99 per cent – among the highest in the world.
- Tourism emerged in the Maldives in the 1970s; the islands were largely unvisited by tourists before then. In fact, a United Nations delegation that visited in the ’60s declared the gorgeously picturesque place unsuitable for tourism. Today, resorts and hotels exist on 90 Maldivian islands.
- Because the Maldives lie in the middle of traditionally important trading routes, the islands’ have adopted aspects of various cultures that have passed through them. Homes are built in Southeast Asian architecture. The unique Maldivian boat called a “dhoni” shows Arabic influences in its design; the traditional big drum called a “bodu-beru” resembles those in some African countries.
- The Maldives was the first country in the world to hold an official presidential cabinet meeting underwater. During the meeting, which the president and vice president attended, a declaration on global climate change was signed.