Location: South West of Sri
Lanka, on the equator.
Geography: 1,190 coral reef
islands, forming an archipelago of 26 major atolls. Stretches 820 km north to
south and 120 km east to west. 200 islands are inhabited, 74 are exclusive
Climate: Generally warm and
humid. Sun shines all year through. Average temperature around 29 - 32 degrees
What to wear: Dress is generally
casual. T-shirts and cotton clothing are most suitable. In Male', the capital
island, it is recommended that women wear modest clothing without baring too
Population: 263,189 people
according to the 1997 estimate. Origins of the Maldivians are lost in
antiquity, but history reveals that the islands have been populated since 3,000
years ago. Early settlers were travelers on the Silk Route, and from the Indus
Valley civilization. Inherently warm, friendly and hospitable by nature,
it is to feel comfortable and relaxed with the Maldivians.
Culture: A proud history and
rich culture evolved from the time of the first settlers who were from various
parts of the world traveling the sea in ancient times.
Language: Dhivehi is the
language spoken in all parts of the Maldives. English is widely spoken by the
Maldivians, and every visitor can make himself understood when getting around
the capital island. In the resorts, a variety of languages are spoken by the
staff including English, German, Italian, French and Japanese.
Economy: The Maldives economy is
growing at an average of over 10 percent since the past two decades. Tourism is
the main industry, contributing close to 20 percent to the GDP. Fisheries and
trade follow close behind. The Maldivian economy is regarded as exemplary in the
region, and welcomes foreign investment.
Currency: The Maldivian currency
is Rufiyaas and Laaris. The exchange rate for US Dollars is Rufiyaa 12.75 for
one US Dollar (2002). A Rufiyaa is equal to 100 laarees (coins). The Rufiyaa
comes in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500. The American Dollar is
the most common foreign currency. Payments in the resorts can be made in most
hard currencies in cash, traveler's cheques or credit cards. The most commonly
used credit cards are American Express, Visa, Master Card, Diners Club, JCB and
Education: The functional
literacy rate is 98 percent. Educational standards are among the highest in the
region, and schools follow the British education system.
Health: Health care facilities
are improving on a daily basis. The Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male' is
the biggest hospital in the country providing sophisticated medical care. ADK
Hospital is the biggest private health care facility, and follows high medical
resorts have an in-house doctor. Decompression chambers are within reach of most
resorts in case of a diving emergency.
Local time: GMT +5 hours
Business hours: From Sunday to
Thursday 7:30 - 14:30 in the government sector, and generally from 9:00 to 5:00
in the private sector. Weekend falls on Friday and Saturday
Communication: Up to date
technology and international satellite links allow Maldives to have a
sophisticated communications system. IDD facilities are available on all
resorts, and card phone facilities are available on all islands. Dhiraagu, an affiliate of the British Cable and
Wireless Company and newly welcomed Wataniya provide GSM mobile services covering the whole Maldives.
Dhiraagu and Focus infocom are the only two Internet service providers. There are now a few resorts and hotels who offer Wi-Fi connectivity and some of the cafe's around the jetty area in Male' also provide Wi-Fi access.