‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’: this proverb holds true more often than not, actually, it probably always does.
Then there’s this other popular phrase which goes a little like this; the only rule without an exception, is that every rule has an exception. Apparently, in this particular case, the former is almost universally untrue while the latter is.
The beauty of the scattered island nation of the Republic of the Maldives, has been witnessed by just about anybody who has laid their eyes upon the exotic chain of small islands. Boasting unrivalled pristine sandy beaches, glorious turquoise waters that never seem to go bland and a populous endowed with all the good manners in the world and a well-bred social behavior, it’s hardly surprising that this small archipelago is famously known as Paradise on Earth.
With a total land area of just below 300, 000 square kilometers, the Maldives is one of the smallest countries in the world.
A minnow in that regard, Maldivians account for just 0.0047% of the entire world population with only 341, 246 people.
Despite this, the Maldives is the 11th most densely populated country in the world and the capital city- and by far the largest city in the country- Male’, is one of the most densely populated cities in the world as well. Dispersed into 26 atolls consisting of 1, 192 coral islands starting from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll (named after the island of Ihavandhoo in the south east of the atoll), to the Addu Atoll (the southernmost atoll in the country), the Maldives is also the country with the lowest natural highest point in the world at just a glaring 2 meters.
The capital city of Male’ is geographically located in the Kaafu Atoll, although it is not considered a part of it and has an elevation of 2.4 meters, which is again, extremely low. Male’ acts as the central economic hub of the entire country where all the important ministries, offices (main branches or head offices) and most other organizations reside in. It should be noted though that, as time goes by, other cities including Addu City, Fuvahmulah (Gnaviyani Atoll), Hulhumale’ City etc are all developing well and each passing year makes the country, even if by a bit, less dependent on the capital.
Most people would think these geographical factors would hinder the economic growth and development of the tropical nation, but believe it or not, being surrounded by water has actually aided the growth of the Maldives massively. Rewind to the ages when the Dravidian people first settled in this country, when Islam wasn’t the main religion and when the language spoken wasn’t Dhivehi. Surrounded by miles upon miles of water on a small tropical island, the countrymen were isolated.
Food was hard to come by and travel was even harder. Fast forward to 2015, and you have a nation that is very much dependent on the seas that surround it. The fishing industry is the largest industry in the country after tourism, for obvious reasons, and the Maldivians have reached a point where they can no longer live without this environment. You will be hard-pressed to come across a dish (that is unique to the country) that doesn’t include any form of fish. Astonishing, isn’t it?
Although the level of dependency on fisheries and the fishing industry remains incredibly high, the largest economic industry in the country, as aforementioned, is the tourism industry. Tourism plays the most vital role in earning foreign exchange, and it is also quite important in generating employment in the tertiary sector with somewhere between 25, 000 and 40, 000 employees. The total number of resorts in the country is 105 and is expected to exceed that number in the near future.
With only about 190 inhabited islands in the country, the number of resorts just goes to show how big the industry is in the country. Each year brings in close to a million tourists: more than three times the entire population of the country.
Again, the geographical factors that were previously thought to be obstacles play an indispensable role in tourism as well. Anyone who has ever actually thought about it will understand why it just so happens to be like this. Why is it that the Maldives is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world? Why? What sets it apart from the rest of the places? The answer is very simple; it’s literally the archipelago of the Maldives.
The geographical set up of this nation is so unique and idiosyncratic that it makes Maldives peerless when it comes to attracting tourists. The beaches, the weather, the underwater scenery and the immaculate water are things people who live in urban metropolitan areas have never ever seen before. Contrary to the oily, muddy and unclean waters you will find in the industrialized cities of the world, the seas surrounding the Maldives are crystal clear and so clean, that it makes the country one of the highest rated recreational diving destinations for tourists around the world.
Visiting the Maldives will definitely be a very aesthetically pleasing adventure on its own due to the picturesque sights you’re bound to come across, but let’s not forget the Maldivians themselves who are bound to make your stay even more pleasant.
From the moment you step in to the airport, till the moment you leave, every single Maldivian you meet will definitely greet you with a smile. That is just how we, the Maldivians are. It is embedded in our culture to be polite and welcoming to any and all guests we have. From afar, the political turmoil in the country and the constant ‘unrest’ among civilians caused by decisions taken by the many political figures in the country might make it look like the Maldives won’t be as peaceful as it is made out to be.
Yet, that is far from the truth. Sure, there are a couple rallies every now and then, but never has anybody’s life been in danger. Unlike some other countries where politics have actually put people’s lives at risk, we can assure you that you won’t see anything like that in this country. This is because us Maldivians, we believe that there is a limit to how far we’re allowed to go with the political banners and labels.
We’ve drawn invisible lines that should never be crossed and everyone is most definitely grateful that so far, these lines haven’t been crossed. No matter how politically divided our people maybe, there will always be a sense of unity among the Maldivians when it comes to issues that relate to the well-being of the country and economy as a whole. This peace and harmony you will find here can mostly be accredited to the fact that the Maldives is a 100% Muslim country.
As much as I have been able to cover in this article, I’d be lying if I said that’s all there is to this beautiful country. It’s impossible to paint the perfect picture including all the intricate details of this country in one 1000 word article. So I would recommend to anyone who wants to get a perfect idea of what exactly it’s like here, to experience the Maldives and every little thing about it by visiting this country. Don’t believe me when I tell you that the Maldives is Paradise on Earth, visit us here and live it.