The Maldives Islands is an independent state composed of 26 coral atolls located to the south and southwest of Sri Lanka. The island chain is one of the archipelagos of the Lakshadweep-Maldives-Chagos Group, a huge group of undersea mountains extending from the Indian Ocean into the Arabian Sea.
Of about 1,200 islands in the Maldives, only about 200 are inhabited. In recent years some of the uninhabited ones have been used for luxurious resort hotels. These hotels can offer a real desert island experience far from any other civilization.
While the El Nino of 1998 caused severe depopulation of the corals reefs around the Maldives, they are now on the rebound, partly due to natural processes and partly from the efforts of scientists. The diverse aquatic ecology provides some of the most interesting and beautiful diving in the world, and fans of scuba diving and snorkeling flock to the islands in droves. Some come just to observe the fascinating flora and fauna, while others are hoping to catch something. The fishing is excellent here, and fishing tours are a popular tourist activity.
Because the Maldives are surrounded by ocean currents, the temperature is a perfect 24 to 33 degrees Celsius year round. Humidity is rather high, but the air is in constant motion from ocean breezes and seldom feels uncomfortable.