Maldives is located in the Laccadive Sea in the Indian Ocean, 400 km southwest of India's southern coast.

It is an archipelago of 1,190 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls oriented north-south.
Only 185 islands are home to the Maldivian population. The other islands are used entirely for economic purposes of which tourism and agriculture are the most dominant.

Capital: Male; Official language: Dhivehi

Government: Presidential republic

Independence from Britain: July 26, 1965

Area: 296 km sq

Population: 394,999 (July 2011)

Religion: Islam is the official religion and open practice of any other religion is forbidden and liable to prosecution.

GDP: $2.931 billion

Per capita income: $9,065

Currency: Maldivian Rufiyaa, derived from Indian rupiyaa. 100MVR=$6.54

Environmental issues: Over the last century, sea levels have risen about 20 cm. Further rises threaten the very existence of the Maldives, which have a maximum natural ground level of only 2.3 metres averaging only 1.5 metres above sea level. Eighty percent of the total land mass is only 1 metre above sea level.

By 2020, the Maldives plans to eliminate or offset all of its greenhouse gas emissions.

Tourism: Tourism accounts for 28 percent of the GDP and more than 60 percent of foreign exchange receipts. Over 90 percent of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes