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Geography of the Maldives

Location: Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India.

The Maldive islands stretch from the southern tip of India down to the equator. There are 1,196 islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean, making this one of the most disparate countries in the world.

Geographic coordinates: 3 15 N, 73 00 E

Map references: Asia

total: 300 sq km
land: 300 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 644 km

Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)

Terrain: flat, with white sandy beaches

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Wilingili island in the Addu Atoll 2.4 m (the Maldives are the flattest country in the world).

Natural resources: fish

Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 3%
forests and woodland: 3%
other: 84% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise

Environment - current issues: depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Geography - note: 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts); archipelago of strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean.

The biggest island of the Maldives is Fuvahmulah, which is a single island and single atoll located in the southern part of the Maldives known the Ganaviyani atoll. In Addu atoll most of the islands are connected by roads over the reef and the total length of the road is 12 km.

See also : Maldives