The Formation of an Island Nation

The only country with such a unique geography, Maldives is a South Asian country located south-southwest of India, laid out in the Indian Ocean. Consisting of about 1,200 coral islands clustered into atolls and beautifully distributed over 90,000 square kilometres. Maldives is located at 3°15′N 73°00′E

Lying in a unique double chain, spread from north to south, atop a 960 kilometre long submarine ridge, that rises from the very depths of the Indian Ocean, the coral chain crosses the famous trade route running through the territorial waters of Maldives. Near the Southern end of the country two open channels allow safe passage to ships travelling from one side of the Indian Ocean to the other.

The Maldivian atolls are formed from prehistoric volcanoes in the Indian Ocean that went extinct. As the ocean floor subsided with the volcano, corals began to populate and grow around it forming a fringed reef.

As ages passed the reef slowly became a barrier reef enclosing a shallow lagoon inside. The volcanoes disappeared and the coral continued to grow. Slowly as material eroded from the reefs they got collected on the shallower reefs and the sand banks became tiny islands. Finally a perfect environment for marine life and ecosystems to thrive is produced.

Circular coral reefs on each atoll support a large number of islands that have an average of 2 Square kilometres of land. The largest natural island of Maldives is Laamu Atoll “Gan”. Due to the large number of islands some islands have duplicate names, including “Gan” in “Addu Atoll” which hosts an airport, the Gan International Airport that was recently converted into an international airport. However most of the islands of “Addu Atoll” are connected via a highway built over the reefs. The highway, also known as “Link Road”, is about 15 kilometres long.

Some of the beauties of the Maldivian islands that are too small for rivers and mountains are the marshes and the small lakes. The islands also lack hills but some have sand dunes that can reach up to 8 feet. With wide beaches surrounding the thick green foliage the Maldivian sand is unique in its colour and texture.

The tropical vegetation of inhabited islands consist of small groves of banana, papaya, drumstick and citrus trees by the homesteads, while breadfruit trees and coconut palms are grown in available patches of land. Uninhabited islands have mostly coconut trees and different kinds of bushes indigenous to Maldives along the waterline.

There are islands in Maldives that separate themselves from the geographical formation of the other islands, one of the most notable being “Fuvahmulah”. Situated in the Equatorial Channel, the large island of “Fuvamulah” separates itself from the Atolls and is surrounded by a steep coral beach. The island is also the highest lying island, of Maldives, where all the other islands are only a few feet above the sea level. It has a high sandy beach that moves around a corner of the island depending on the season. The sand and the pebbles are unique to the island and is polished by the action of the waves crashing on to the beach. It has a very unique texture that cannot be found anywhere else in Maldives.

Maldivian islanders and natives used to rely on grown food as well as livestock such as goats and chicken. Currently most Maldivians depend on imported food, however agriculture in the islands have increased and provides a good supply of vegetables and fruits. Boats from different islands transport the grown food to the “Local Market” located in the capital city Malé.

Each island has an underground fresh water lens formed by rain that seeps into the soil. The fresh water layer floats above the saltwater layer, which is used by islanders as drinking water. However in densely populated islands such as Malé City, desalination plants are setup to supply freshwater to the islanders.

Maldives is one of the few countries that can give you a glimpse at the different stages of development. From naturally perfect scenes to the very modern beauties, Maldives offers travellers a timeline view of the geographical formation of a nation through time.

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