Map of the MaldivesThe Republic of the Maldives, also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls. The chains stand in the Laccadive Sea, about 400 km south-west of India. The Maldives archipelago is located on top of 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 90,000 km2, making the country one of the world’s most geographically dispersed. Its population of 328,536 (2012) inhabits 192 of its 1,192 islands with about 104,000 people living in the capital and largest city Malé, located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll.

The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. With an average ground level of 1.5 m 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 2.4 m. Forecasts of Maldives’ inundation is a great concern for the Maldivian people.

Two seasons dominate the Maldives’ weather: the dry season associated with the winter northeastern monsoon and the rainy season which brings strong winds and storms. The annual rainfall averages 254 cm in the north and 381 cm in the south.

The Maldives are ranked the third most endangered nation due to flooding from climate change.By 2020, Maldives plans to eliminate or offset all of its greenhouse gas emissions and has pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2019.

Other environmental issues are waste disposal. Although the Maldives are kept relatively pristine and little litter can be found on the islands, no good waste disposal sites exist. Most trash is simply dumped on the island of Thilafushi.