Thinking about a destination that is an enticing tropical paradise and also a bucket list destination inspires this week’s article…
Fascinating Facts About the Maldives
Are you dreaming of a tropical vacation with the perfect mix of luxury and tranquility … someplace with crystal-clear waters, pristine white sand beaches, and perfect weather? You might just be dreaming of the Maldives.
Located in the Indian Ocean about 800 miles southwest of India and Sri Lanka, the Maldives was recently named the world’s leading destination at the 2022 World Travel Awards. Because of the isolation of its island resorts, the Maldives is considered to be one of the safest travel destinations in the world.
Here are 8 fascinating facts about this picturesque country.
1.It’s the Smallest Country in Asia
Made up of 1,192 islands, the Maldives covers an area of almost 35,000 square miles. However, only about 116 of them are above water. This makes it the smallest country in Asia and one of the most geographically dispersed nations on Earth. Only about 200 islands are inhabited. The rest are too remote or too small to sustain life.
2. The Origin of “Atoll”
First used in the 1600s in reference to the Maldives, “atoll” is defined as a ring-shaped reef, island, or chain of islands made from coral. Interestingly, it’s the only English word to originate from the Maldivian language, Dhivehi. Much later, the writings of Charles Darwin popularized the word.
3. It Straddles the Equator
The islands of the Maldives are grouped into a double chain of 26 atolls. Some sit on one side of the Equator in the Northern hemisphere while others sit in the Southern hemisphere.
Packing tip: The sun is much stronger near the Equator, so bring lots of sunscreen when you visit the Maldives.
4. High Literacy Rate
According to recent statistics, virtually all teenagers in the Maldives are literate in Dhivehi, and more than 90% are literate in English.
5. The Sand Won’t Burn Your Feet
Did you know parrotfish are responsible for the gorgeous white sand you’ll find in the Maldives? That’s right. They eat and digest bits of coral, then excrete it as sand. Researchers in the Maldives discovered that a single parrotfish can produce 900 pounds of sand per year! So, yes, the sand is essentially parrotfish poop, but it’s beautiful, and it won’t burn your feet.
6. Its History Goes Back a Long Way
According to archaeological evidence, people have been living in the Maldives since the 5th century BC.
Around the 3rd century BC, Buddhism was introduced to the islands and was the dominant religion for 1,400 years. Then, in the mid-1100s, the last Buddhist king converted to Islam, and the country has been Muslim ever since.
Cultural tip: On the main island of Malé, you’ll see many beautiful mosques. You’ll also notice that alcohol and pork are not available, and women dress more conservatively. However, alcohol is legal at the resorts, and beachy attire is the norm. So don’t worry, you’ll have many opportunities to enjoy delicious cuisine, cocktails, and fine wine. Just remember: When you travel away from the resorts, it’s essential to respect local rules and customs.
7. The Original Sustainable Fishers
An ancient fishing technique has been passed down from generation to generation in the Maldives for centuries. While this method, called “pole and line fishing,” may seem outdated and labor-intensive, many fishermen in the Maldives are committed to keeping it alive … not only for tradition’s sake but because it helps prevent overfishing. Considering tuna is the country’s biggest export, sustainable practices are essential to their livelihood.
8. Swim with Whale Sharks All Year
Whale sharks love the southern edge of the South Ari Atoll. When they’re young and small—well, small for whale sharks, which is between 10 and 26 feet—they come here because there’s lots of food and no predators. It’s the perfect place to eat and grow. Once they mature (at around 30 years of age!), they move on.
By the way, whale sharks are totally safe. While they have those huge mouths, they only eat plankton and fish. Their huge size is intimidating and makes swimming with them so thrilling – yet they are not dangerous.
Gorgeous images of the Maldives create the desire to spend time relaxing in one it’s luxurious resorts, but now you know a little beyond the scenery.