1 / 31

Maldives Travel

An idyllic sunset at Club Faru, a resort island near Male, capital of the Maldives. Of the 1,192 islands, about 200 accommodate the approximately 3.95 million Maldivians, who are mostly Muslim (non-Muslims are denied citizenship, though they are not barred from visiting or working in the country). Only 185 islands are inhabited by local people; the remaining host around 90 resorts. Understandably, for this far-flung nation of coral atolls, tourism is the biggest industry, netting about $325 million a year.

The Maldives in happier times

January 1, 1970

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago of 1,192 coral atolls (of which 200 are inhabited), is the smallest Asian nation. These islands, barely a few meters above sea level, are a magnet for wealthy tourists and scuba-divers: the former flock to their pristine beaches, the latter come to experience their wealth of stunningly beautiful coral reefs and marine wildlife. Over the last week, the Maldives, an Islamic nation, made international headlines for violent street protests culminating in a coup d’état that overthrew its elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, who has held office since 2008. The political situation is worrying for the Maldives’ economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. Not long ago, the Maldives were the happy isles of the Indian Ocean. Reminiscing on a visit he made to the Maldives in 2010, Yahoo! India’s Travel Editor BIJOY VENUGOPAL presents a dramatic photo-essay of a happy-go-lucky yet strangely troubled island nation