Geography The Maldives archipelago consists of 1190 tiny islands scattered across the Indian Ocean. Only 185 of these islands are inhabited, while the others are used largely for tourism and agriculture. The atolls are composed of live coral reefs and sand bars perched atop a 960km submarine ridge, while the land features lush tropical vegetation with abundant local coconut palms. With an average ground level of 1,5m above sea level, the Maldives is by far the lowest country on earth and as such has a very fragile ecosystem. The capital and largest city of the Maldives is Male. Climate The tropical climate is influenced by monsoons, although bright sunny weather with a light sea breeze can be expected most days. Temperature: 30°C all year round Sea temperature: 22°C to 28°C Language The locals speak Dhivehi, with English widely spoken in areas frequented by tourists. Culture The local culture features a lively mix of South Indian, Sinhalese and Arab influences that is reflected in the traditional music, cuisine and art of the island. Money The monetary unit is the Maldivian Ruffiyaa (MVR), while international credit cards are widely accepted by resorts. Driving Most tourists will land in the capital, Male, and will be transferred to their hotel either by seaplane or boat. These two means of transport are widely used for most trips between islands. What to do The Maldives is renowned for its incredible diving opportunities. The crystal clear water and shallow lagoons are perfect for snorkelling, while the reef walls offer a kaleidoscope of sea life for more experienced divers. The Maldives have an amazing diversity of sea life, with corals and over 2000 species of fish, ranging from reef fish and reef sharks to moray eels, rays and whale sharks. The island's many sheltered lagoons also provide the perfect destination to enjoy an adventure-filled family holiday or romantic getaway for two. Direct Flights There are frequent direct flights to Male from most international destinations includingIndia, Sri Lanka, Dubai and major airports in South-East Asia, as well as an increasing number of charters from Europe.