If you have heard of Maldives, you may know it as a tropical paradise with crazily beautiful beaches and excellent resorts. However, not many know where it is. Some think it’s in the Pacific, while some would guess somewhere in South America. They are all, unfortunately, wrong. Where are the Maldives located?
Maldives is in the Indian Ocean, about 470 miles (750km) from the southern tip of India. It is a cluster of over 26 atolls stretching over 35,000 square miles (90,000 km²) and is one of the lowest lying countries in the world, with the highest natural point being only 7.9 feet (2.4m) from the sea level.
This article will explore where the Maldives is, as well as some common questions you may have about the country itself. We discuss if it is safe to visit the Maldives.
Where Is Maldives Located?
The Republic of Maldives is a group of 20 over atolls in the Indian Ocean, about 470 miles (750km) south of the Asian mainland. Its closest neighbors would be India and Sri Lanka. The Maldives stretches over 35,000 square miles (90,000 km²), with a total land mass of only 115 square miles (298km²). The capital city is Malé.
The Maldives is not the kind of place many would know. Those that know it may think of Maldives as a tropical paradise, where you will see beautiful beaches with white sands, a deep blue sea, and swaying coconut trees.
However, not many would be able to pinpoint where it is. If you ask people where the Maldives is, many would guess it is some islands in the Pacific Ocean or the Mediterranean Sea closer to North Africa. Some would even guess that it’s somewhere in the Caribbean too.
But the Maldives is a group of tropical islands in the Indian Ocean, around 470 miles south of India. It is essentially a cluster of atolls stretching over 35,000 square miles (90,000 km².) The Maldives is a country on its own, called the Republic of Maldives, and the capital city is Malé.
What is Maldives Famous For?
The Maldives is famous as a tropical paradise. Visitors go there to enjoy its beautiful resorts built on its many atolls. The country is known for white sandy beaches, emerald blue sea, and warm weather. It is also known for great aquamarine life, making it popular with snorkelers and divers.
The Maldives, in general, is famous for its tourism. Many of its atolls are dotted with resorts and chalets, where tourists flock to them to enjoy Maldives’ warm tropical weather. Maldives’s atolls are also known for their beautiful beaches with white sand and deep blue sea.
Many major international hotel and resort brands, such as Sheraton, Marriott, Four Seasons, Hilton, and Hard Rock, operate in the Maldives. Aside from these grand resorts, tourists can also enjoy the Maldives by staying at its more local, rustic chalets.
Aside from its beaches, Maldives is also known for its wonderful aquamarine life and beautiful coral reefs. As a result, the Maldives is also popular with divers and snorkelers keen to observe and enjoy underwater life around it.
On the flip side, Maldives is also known as one of the most affected countries during the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, as much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed by the tsunami. Many lives were lost as well. Many people first heard of Maldives as a result of this disaster.
You may like this article: Where is Ibiza located?
Is Maldives Part Of India?
The Maldives is not part of India or Sri Lanka. The Maldives is its own country. The Republic of Maldives is a republic; the citizens elect a president and senate every five years. Maldivian society is also not fully Indian, as its population may be Indian in genetics but are Muslim in general.
Many people sometimes think of Maldives as part of India since its closest neighbor is India, and the country is right in the Indian Ocean.
However, Maldives is a self-governing, sovereign nation. The country is known as the Republic of Maldives and runs a presidential system similar to the US. The citizens elect a president and a 77-member house of representatives every five years. The Maldives achieved independence from the British Empire in 1965.
Aside from not being part of India politically, Maldives is also not entirely in the Indian cultural sphere. This is because although Maldivians can be considered to have Indian genetics primarily, they are not Hindu nor Buddhist. Maldivians are generally Muslim, as the region became Muslimnized in the 13th century.
However, you may still notice a strong influence on Indian culture in the lifestyle of Maldivians. The culinary traditions are somewhat similar to India, and tea is the nation’s default drink.
What Languages Do Maldives Speak?
The population of Maldives speaks the Maldivian, or Dhivehi Language. Although not mutually intelligible, it originates from Southern Indian languages such as Sinhalese. The language is written in Thanaa script, originating from the Arabic writing system. English is also widely spoken.
The Maldives has its national language, called Maldivian, or in its local name, Dhivehi. The language is part of the Indo-European family of languages, which includes many of the world’s major languages such as English, German, Arabic, Farsi, and Hindi.
The language may have originated from Sinhalese, the national language of Sri Lanka. Historians noted that the Maldivians initially spoke Sinhalese until the language eventually evolved and became separated around the 12th century.
The language is currently written in Thanaa script, which has also evolved from the Arabic writing system. Dhivehi used to be written in Dhives Akuru script before the mass conversion of Maldivians into Islam in the 13th century caused the eventual introduction of Arabic script and the development of Thanaa script.
English is also commonly spoken and written in the Maldives, owing to centuries of colonialism under the British Empire. You may see ads, and even TV news in English.
Do You Need a Passport To Visit the Maldives?
If you are not a Maldivian, you will need a passport to enter the Maldives. You will also require authorization to enter the country, usually in the form of an entry visa. Maldivian immigration currently issues visa-on-arrival for all international visitors, which means you may not need pre-approval before coming into the country.
The Maldives is a sovereign country, which means it has its own immigration rules that foreigners must abide by when visiting.
Checks with the Maldivian immigration website revealed that Maldives immigration issues all visitors to the country visa-on-arrival. This means you will hand over your passport at the border checkpoint and receive a stamp allowing you to enter the Maldives for a set number of days.
However, the approval of a visitors visa depends on several requirements:
- Your passport must have at least one month’s validity.
- You need to show where you will stay during your visit, usually in the form of a hotel itinerary.
- Sufficient money to pay for your stay in the Maldives.
- A confirmed return flight ticket to exit Maldives. If your departing flight from the Maldives is to a different country than your passport, you need to show you can enter the destination. You may need to show an entry visa.
- You need to be vaccinated against yellow fever and Covid-19.
For US passport holders, your tourist visa grants you a 30-day stay in the Maldives at no cost.
Is Maldives Safe?
The Maldives is generally safe for tourists. However, The US Department of State’s website has shown that visitors may want to be vigilant for terrorist attacks and potential riots. US visitors should also enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) upon arrival to access help from the US consulate if in danger.
The Maldives is generally safe for travelers, as the country has strong law and order and strict gun control laws. Being majority Muslim, alcohol is also less accessible in Maldivian population centers, meaning there is less risk of drunken crimes.
Visitors to the Maldives also usually do not stay in Maldivian cities, but resorts and chalets, meaning many visitors to the country are isolated from the local population. This reduces the risk of being victims of robbery or pickpocketing.
However, some minority sectors of Maldivian society do have resentment against foreign visitors and may be hostile towards foreigners. This may be the reason behind the US Department Of State’s travel advice for US citizens in the Maldives.
The US Department of State has issued official advice to visitors to the Maldives to:
- Avoid any demonstrations and large crowds
- Observe and take not of breaking events and potential riots in local media.
- Be on alert of their surroundings at all times, and be vigilant in areas where many foreigners gather.
- To have emergency travel plans prepared in case.
If you are a US citizen, you should also consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) upon arrival. This allows the US Department of State to know you are in the country. Should anything happen, at least they know that you are in the Maldives and may offer you the proper assistance.