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Maldives Travel

The Maldives are coral atolls – islands that encircle a lagoon. The word has its roots in atholu in Dhivehi (the language of the Maldivians). It was first used extensively by the English naturalist Charles Darwin in his published work, The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs. In the Indian Ocean, atolls are found in the Maldives, Laccadives (Lakshadweep) and Seychelles. Maldives has the world’s tenth largest atoll, Huvadhu, which has a total land area of 38.5 square kilometers.

The Maldives in happier times

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