Maldives

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Maldives
Maldives

The Maldives is a by-word for luxury, romance and tropical bliss; a beautiful string of low-lying coral islands in the Indian Ocean, and a paradise for diving enthusiasts and sun seekers alike.

The country’s 26 natural atolls and over 1000 islands have uniformly perfect white sand beaches lapped by turquoise lagoons the temperature of bath water. Tourism only began in the 1970s, but it is now the Maldives’ most important industry. Tourism in the Maldives concentrates on the luxury market, meaning that the country is home to some of the world’s best hotels.

Maldives
Maldives

Yet even in paradise trouble can bubble beneath the surface. It is precisely because the Maldives is so low-lying (80% of the territory is less than 1m/3.3ft above sea level) that their very existence is threatened by global warming. As such, since the 2008 election of young reformer Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives have worked hard to become one of the most environmentally friendly countries on earth, and continue to do so under new president Mohammed Waheed Hassan.

Nightlife in Maldives

There is little or no nightlife in the Maldives, and this is definitely not a destination for party animals. That said, most resorts have bars, the occassional live music act and a few larger ones even have small nightclubs. Beach parties and barbecues are also popular. Some resorts have occasional film showings.

Maldives restaurant
Maldives restaurant

Shopping in Maldives

Lacquered wooden boxes are the most distinctive Maldivian handicrafts, and are most famously produced in Thulhaadhoo in Baa Atoll. The craft involves the process of shaping and hollowing out pieces of wood from endemic trees to form intricately crafted boxes, containers and ornamental objects. Beautiful reed mats are woven throughout the country, the most famous of which are those that are woven by the women of Gadhdhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. Ranging from placemats to full-size single mattress mats, they are hand-decorated with intricate abstract designs.

Local market
Local market

In Malé, most souvenir shops line the northern end of Chaandanee Magu, earlier known as the Singapore Bazaar for its many imports from Singapore. The local market offers stalls with a variety of local produce, mainly from the atolls, such as different kinds of local vegetables, fruits and yams, packets of sweetmeat, nuts and breadfruit chips, bottles of homemade sweets and pickles, and bunches of bananas hanging on coir ropes from ceiling beams.

Shopping hours: Sat-Thurs 0830-2000, Fri 1330-2000. Shops officially shut for 15 minutes five times a day in deference to Muslim prayer times; however, this rule is not always strictly adhered to in the tourist areas away from the capital.