An Introduction to the Maldives

maldives thumb
maldives thumb

Maldives, formally the Republic of Maldives, lies approximately southwest of India and Sri Lanka, approximately 700 kilometers from the southern tip of the Asian continent. The Maldives is one of the most crowded countries in the world, with its permanent population of more than a million people and the rapid development of tourist infrastructure leading to an exponential increase in visitors every year. Tourism revenue is expected to top $7 billion by the end of 2021, making it the single largest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product of Maldives. To cater to the needs of a huge influx of tourists, the government has taken several major steps, including the creation of a national tourism policy and a legislative framework for the conservation and sustainable management of the marine environment.

Natural Environments

The Maldives are a naturally rich tropical island environment with a diverse terrestrial and aquatic habitat. The ocean is the primary habitat of Maldives marine life, including a wide diversity of coral reefs, seaweed, fishes, sharks, sea turtles, dugongs and a host of others. Maldives tourism can be characterized mainly on the rich marine diversity of its natural environment, which makes the country a prime destination for marine exploration. As such, a reference citation needed to be accredited by an expert diving organization that has an active membership in the Association of Marine Decisions, or AMDA, and the Deep Ocean Research Organization (DORO), both recognized by the International Society for Marine Research (SALA), or an equivalent body.

Natural Beauty

The natural beauty of the Maldives is enhanced by the abundance of natural beaches and seascapes. The sea is brimming with rare corals and a variety of fauna, making it a paradise for marine exploration. There are numerous islands and atolls, where the residents utilize coconut palms and mangrove forests to create beautiful homes and livelihoods. In the past decade or so, however, commercialization has influenced much of the environment, forcing residents to hunt for alternative sources of food and fuel, and to seek refuge in places further away from their starboard destinations. Nonetheless, the Maldives still remain a paradise for underwater photographers and enthusiasts.

Maldives Weather

As concerns about climate change have grown worldwide, there has been a corresponding increase in Maldives tourism, which is largely dependent on the favorable conditions it experiences throughout the year. The Maldives islands were once covered primarily in landmasses, and now they are mainly composed of smaller, highly populated islands. Tourism has therefore relied heavily on natural disasters, creating a sense of urgency in visitors to visit the Maldives even during periods when other parts of the world experience severe weather conditions. In addition, rising seas and increased water temperatures tend to reduce or destroy coral reefs, resulting in mass beach closures. These natural disasters and factors that impact on tourism in the Maldives can be expected to continue as long as global warming is a major concern.

Rising Seas and Cold Climate

Since the Maldives are located between the Indian and Arabian oceans, they experience seasonal climate changes that include warm summers and cold winters. On the island of Maldives alone, there are three different climate zones: the hot season which lasts from November to February; the winter season, which extends from March to October; and the chillier autumn and spring seasons. Despite the chilliness of the winter season, which is estimated to be around 2 degrees Celsius lower than normal, tourist attractions and Maldives tourism rarely suffer from significant winter weather. The cool and gentle ocean currents and mild weather provide a welcome respite from the harsh tropical weather experienced by visitors to the Maldives. It is also a popular destination for eco-tourism, due to the abundance of marine wildlife found in the waters surrounding the island.

Maldives Coral Reef

One of the most striking features of the Maldives is its coral reefs, which are highly susceptible to damage from the harsh environmental conditions experienced by the Maldives. Severe weather conditions and rising seas lead to massive coral reef destruction, with hundreds of species of coral being destroyed. As such, tourism is restricted to small-scale marine activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling, and boat-based fishing is largely banned. However, the Maldives remains an excellent choice for a Caribbean retreat, with clear blue waters, clean beaches and some of the most beautiful corals in the world.

Rain Forests

With the Maldives positioned between two large oceans, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Ocean, it experienced two very distinct yet environmentally friendly climates. The rainy season in the western part of the island is punctuated by cyclones and large storms which dissipate the warm, humid air surrounding the islands. Meanwhile, the eastern part of the island experiences chilly, dry climate during the winter season, and the islands receive large amounts of rainfall during the summer months.

Shark Density & Maldives Marine Life

One of the most unique features of the Maldives is the incredible diversity of marine life that can be found within the waters of the Maldives. With over 400 species of fish and more than 2021 different forms of aquatic invertebrates, there are never going to be a shortage of things to see and experience in this small Indian Ocean archipelago. However, the presence of sharks also poses a significant problem as these predators have made the environment unsafe for humans to live in. Between 1998 and 2021, around nine hundred shark attacks were reported, most of which involved small tropical fish such as cockles and barracuda. The lack of adequate safety measures has resulted in many more potential shark bites, with human beings becoming the victims in almost every case. The government, however, has taken measures to reduce the chances of shark attacks through the implementation of shark nets, warning signs and shark cage diving tours, and has also restricted the number of baited drum sets allowed within the national marine park.

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