Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean–Arabian Sea area, consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls, oriented north-south, that lie between Minicoy Island (the southernmost part of Lakshadweep, India) and the Chagos Archipelago. The chains stand in the Laccadive Sea, and the capital, Malé, is about south-west of India and south-west of Sri Lanka.
From the mid-sixteenth century, the Maldives was dominated by colonial powers: Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain. The islands gained independence from the British Empire in 1965, and in 1968 became a republic ruled by a president and an authoritarian government.
The Maldives archipelago is located atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean. Maldives also form a terrestrial ecoregion together with the Chagos and the Lakshadweep. The Maldives atolls encompass a territory spread over roughly , making the country one of the world's most geographically dispersed. Its population of 328,536 (2012) inhabits 192 of its 1,192 islands. In 2006, Maldives' capital and largest city Malé, located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll, had a population of 103,693. Malé is one of the Maldives' administrative divisions and, traditionally, it was the "King's Island" where the ancient Maldives royal dynasties were enthroned.
The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. With an average ground level elevation of above sea level, it is the planet's lowest country. It is also the country with the lowest natural highest point in the world, at . Future inundation of the Maldives due to rising sea levels is of great concern to its people, motivating the government to have pledged to become a carbon-neutral country by 2019.
How places in Maldives are organized
All places in Maldives
Further information on historical place organization in Maldives