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Sunday 26th May
Maldives Facts
The highest point in the Republic of Maldives is on the island of Wilingili in the Addu Atoll (2.4 m).

The Maldives consist of one thousand one hundred and ninety coral islands (grouped in twenty-six major atolls).

Early inhabitants of the Maldives were probably from Southern India and Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

Islam was brought to the islands by Arab traders. The Maldives became an Islamic nation in the twelfth century.

The Portuguese occupied the islands between 1558 and 1573.

The Dutch established a protectorate over the Maldives in the seventeenth century.

In 1887 the Maldives officially became a British Protectorate.

A British RAF base was established on Gan Island, Addu Atoll, in 1957. The base closed nineteen years later.

In 1965 the Maldives gained full independence from the United Kingdom.

The country became the Republic of Maldives in 1968.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom led the country from 1978 until November 2008.

The Republic of Maldives rejoined the Commonwealth in 1982.

The tourist industry is the major industry in the Maldives. Tourism in the Maldives started in the early 1970s.

On 26 December 2004, a quake occurred under the sea near Aceh in north Indonesia (8.9 on the Richter scale); this produced tsunamis causing flooding and destruction in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and the east coast of Africa (Kenya and Somalia).

Over a hundred people in the Maldives were killed by the 2004 tsunami. Many lost their homes.

Global warming is of particular concern to the people of the islands of the Maldives. Rising sea levels could see the disappearance of low-lying islands over the next century.

Mohamed Nasheed won the first democratic presidential election in the Maldives in October 2008.

In November 2008 the new President of the Maldives announced that the government hopes to buy land so that inhabitants can move when the islands are covered by rising sea levels.

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