What are the Maldives famous for

History and regional studies

Habitable atolls

The Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of the southern tip of India. They consist of 26 atolls, which, as the peaks of an underwater mountain range, protrude only slightly above sea level: the highest point in the Maldives is just 2.4 meters.

The term "atoll" comes from the Maldivian language: "Atolhu" refers to a ring-shaped collection of coral islands. Almost 1200 islands made of coral sand belong to the Republic of the Maldives. Around 200 of the islands are inhabited, and around 100 are also used as hotel islands.

Legendary story

The settlement history of the Maldives is in the dark: Legends tell of paradisiacal conditions, of immigrants from Sri Lanka, of seafarers, traders and shipwrecked Arab, African or Malaysian origin.

The appearance of the islanders is shaped by these ancestors. With Arab seafarers, Islam also came to the islands: Today the republic, along with Qatar and Oman, is one of the three countries on earth that are one hundred percent Muslim.

The islands and their inhabitants

The Maldives have a good 400,000 inhabitants today - that's a little more than in the city of Bochum. More than a third of them live and work in a confined space in the capital Malé in the North Malé Atoll. Malé is the number one transshipment point: Since the soils of the islands are not very fertile, a lot of food and almost all other goods have to be imported.

The national language of the Maldives is Dhivehi, which is heavily enriched with Arabic foreign words and has its own script called Thaana. On the southern atolls and on the hotel islands, English is the lingua franca.

Fishing and tourism

The most important income of the island republic comes from fishing and tourism. Above all, the Chinese and Europeans love the Maldives, rave about white sandy beaches and turquoise blue sea - especially Italians, British and Germans. And every year more sun seekers and diving enthusiasts visit the Maldives: in 2018 there were a million.

At the same time, increasing numbers of holidaymakers and growing demands on hotel complexes pose ever greater challenges for the island republic: Huge amounts of rubbish from households and hotels, multitudes of divers in the coral reefs and the construction boom on the tourist islands are putting an enormous strain on the sensitive ecosystem of the Maldives.

The President in the spotlight of the world press

The Maldives are a country in upheaval: Mohamed Nasheed was the incumbent president from 2008 to 2012. Raised into office through free elections, the former journalist and oceanographer replaced the more than 30-year dictatorship of his predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

In media-effective campaigns, Nasheed tried to make the world public aware of the fatal consequences of climate change for his country.

In February 2012 there was an attempted coup against Nasheed. To prevent worse things from happening, he resigned a short time later. The upcoming new elections have been postponed, canceled or prevented by the police several times.

In November 2013, Abdulla Yameen, a half-brother of the former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, won the presidential election. The new president was seen as a conservative hardliner who wanted to expand oil production and tourism.

In 2018 he was surprisingly replaced as President by Ibrahim Solih. Solih belongs to the party of the former President Mohamed Nasheed and wants to significantly strengthen the democracy movement in the country again.