Sunday, January 24, 2021

Where is the Maldives?

Or is it "Where are the Maldives?" I don't know. Some writer, huh? Based on what I'm finding online, "is" is correct or at least the vast majority of people think it is. If not, then I'm going to spend this entire post sounding dumb. 

Anyway, the Maldives is kind of a lesser-known Asian country, in fact it's so small you can't really even see it on a map without actually circling it, and even then it's kind of hard to know if that's the Maldives or if it's just that I need to clean the dust specs off of my monitor. 
Maldives Beach. Photo by Simon_sees.

So yeah, the Maldives is small. In 2020, its population was estimated at about 379,270 which is oddly specific for an estimate, but whatever. For perspective, that's roughly the size of Aurora, Colorado, which actually looks bigger on a map than the Maldives because the Maldives is only like 70 percent as large by landmass. The Maldives is also sort of isolated, given that it's right out in the middle of the Indian Ocean and its closest neighbor (India) is 300 miles away. 

There are around 1,200 islands in the Maldives, and each one of them is basically just the peak of a submerged mountain. Beneath the surface of the ocean lies the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, which is a huge "submarine" mountain range. The fact that this place exists at all is actually kind of remarkable since the Maldives has also got the somewhat dubious distinction of being the lowest-lying country in the world, with an average elevation of about five feet. So in other words, the mountains are sticking out of the ocean a little bit, but not really a whole lot. That might have been sort of cool at one point in history but now that the oceans are rising I'm betting there are a lot of Maldivians losing sleep over the precariousness of their tiny, isolated nation.

Like half the countries on Planet Earth, the Maldives was once occupied by Great Britain, but by the 1960s the indigenous people of pretty much every British occupied nation were saying "Please go away" and in 1965 the British actually did. So that was cool, but at the time the Maldives was one of the poorest nations in the world so survival wasn't especially easy. 

Today, the Maldives has a thriving tourism industry (well, when there isn't a raging pandemic anyway), and the food is pretty good, too. The cuisines has definitely got Indian influences and it's full of flavor, as you'll see if you stay with me through the next post.


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