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Encyclopedia > Geography of the Maldives

Maldives is a country of South Asia, situated in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India. It consists of approximately 1,196 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 27 atolls, spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometers, making this one of the most disparate countries in the world. Composed of live coral reefs and sand bars, the atolls are situated atop a submarine ridge 960 kilometers long that rises abruptly from the depths of the Indian Ocean and runs from north to south. Only near the southern end of this natural coral barricade do two open passages permit safe ship navigation from one side of the Indian Ocean to the other through the territorial waters of Maldives. For administrative purposes the Maldives government organized these atolls into nineteen administrative divisions. Maldives map (from CIA world factbook) File links The following pages link to this file: Geography of the Maldives Categories: CIA World Factbook images ... Maldives map (from CIA world factbook) File links The following pages link to this file: Geography of the Maldives Categories: CIA World Factbook images ... South Asia or Southern Asia is a southern geopolitical region of the Asian continent comprising territories on and in proximity to the Indian subcontinent. ... An atoll is a type of low, coral island found in tropical oceans and consisting of a coral-algal reef surrounding a central depression. ... Some of the biodiversity of a coral reef. ... In geography, a bar is a linear shoaling landform feature within a body of water. ...


The largest island of Maldives is Meemu Atoll, which is a single island and single atoll located in the southern part of the Maldives known the Gnaviyani Atoll. In Addu Atoll most of the islands are connected by roads over the reef and the total length of the road is 12 km. Meemu Atoll is an atoll from the Maldives. ... ... Addu or Seenu Atoll is the southernmost atoll of the Republic of Maldives. ...


Geographic coordinates: 3°15′N 73°00′E

Contents


Physiography

Most atolls consist of a large, ring-shaped coral reef supporting numerous small islands. Islands average only one to two square kilometers in area, and lie between one and 1.5 meters above mean sea level. The highest island is situated at three meters above sea level. Maldives has no hills or rivers. Although some larger atolls are approximately 50 kilometers long from north to south, and 30 kilometers wide from east to west, no individual island is longer than eight kilometers.


Each atoll has approximately five to ten inhabited islands; the uninhabited islands of each atoll number approximately 20 to 60. Several atolls, however, consist of one large, isolated island surrounded by a steep coral beach. The most notable example of this type of atoll is the large island of Fua Mulaku situated in the middle of the Equatorial Channel.


The tropical vegetation of Maldives comprises groves of breadfruit trees and coconut palms towering above dense scrub, shrubs, and flowers. The soil is sandy and highly alkaline, and a deficiency in nitrogen, potash, and iron severely limits agricultural potential. Ten percent of the land, or about 26 km², is cultivated with taro, bananas, coconuts, and other fruit. Only the lush island of Fua Mulaku produces fruits such as oranges and pineapples partly because the terrain of Fua Mulaku is higher than most other islands, leaving the groundwater less subject to seawater penetration. Freshwater floats in a layer, or "lens," above the seawater that permeates the limestone and coral sands of the islands. These lenses are shrinking rapidly on Male and on many islands where there are resorts catering to foreign tourists. Mango trees already have been reported dying on Male because of salt penetration. Most residents of the atolls depend on groundwater or rainwater for drinking purposes. Concerns over global warming and a possible long-term rise in sea level as a result of the melting of polar ice are important issues to the fragile balance between the people and the environment of Maldives in the 1990s.


Climate

Male, capital of Maldives
Male, capital of Maldives

The temperature of Maldives ranges between 24 and 33 °C throughout the year. Although the humidity is relatively high, the constant sea breezes help to keep the air moving. Two seasons dominate Maldives' weather: the dry season associated with the winter northeast monsoon and the rainy season brought by the summer southwest monsoon. The annual rainfall averages 2,540 millimeters in the north and 3,810 millimeters in the south. Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Image File history File links File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ...


The weather in Maldives is affected by the large landmass of the South Asia to the north. The presence of this landmass causes differential heating of land and water. Scientists also cite other factors in the formation of monsoons, including the barrier of the Himalayas on the northern fringe of the South Asia and the sun's northward tilt, which shifts the jet stream north. These factors set off a rush of moisture-rich air from the Indian Ocean over the South Asia, resulting in the southwest monsoon. The hot air that rises over the South Asia during April and May creates low-pressure areas into which the cooler, moisture-bearing winds from the Indian Ocean flow. In Maldives, the wet southwest monsoon lasts from the end of April to the end of October and brings the worst weather with strong winds and storms. In May 1991 violent monsoon winds created tidal waves that damaged thousands of houses and piers, flooded arable land with seawater, and uprooted thousands of fruit trees. The damage caused was estimated at US$30 million.


The shift from the moist southwest monsoon to the dry northeast monsoon over the South Asia occurs during October and November. During this period, the northeast winds contribute to the formation of the northeast monsoon, which reaches Maldives in the beginning of December and lasts until the end of March. However, the weather patterns of Maldives do not always conform to the monsoon patterns of the South Asia. Rain showers over the whole country have been known to persist for up to one week during the midst of the dry season.


Area and boundaries

North Miladhun madulu atoll, Maldives

Area:
total: 300 km²
land: 300 km²
water: 0 sq km Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1687x3000, 877 KB) North and South Malosmadulu Atols are in the Maldives, an island republic in the northern Indian Ocean, southwest of India. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1687x3000, 877 KB) North and South Malosmadulu Atols are in the Maldives, an island republic in the northern Indian Ocean, southwest of India. ...


Coastline: 644 km


Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles (44 km)
exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles (370 km)
territorial sea: 12 nautical miles (22 km) A nautical mile is a unit of length. ...



Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Vilingili Island in the Addu Atoll 2.4 m (Maldives is the flattest country in the world, i.e. they have the lowest high-point of any country in the world). Vilingili (Dhivehi: ވިލިނގިލި) is one of the inhabited islands of Gaafu Alif Atoll. ... Addu or Seenu Atoll is the southernmost atoll of the Republic of Maldives. ...


Resources and land use

Natural resources: fish


Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 3%
forests and woodland: 3%
other: 84% (1993 est.)


Irrigated land: NA


Environmental concerns

Natural hazards: low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise


Environment - current issues: depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching


Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea


Other facts

  • Position: degree of latitude: 07° 06'30" N to 00° 41'48" S and degree of longitude: 72° 32'30" E to 73° 45'54" E westside of India and Sri Lanka.
  • Range: in length approx. 750 km (from north to south) / in width approx. 120 km (from west to east)
  • Land territory: 1,196 mostly deserted island with a total area of approx. 298 km².
  • The islands are very flat and are in average 1.8 m above sea level.
  • Distances: shortest distance to India: approx. 340 km and to Sri Lanka approx. 700 km.

Latitude, usually denoted symbolically by the Greek letter φ, gives the location of a place on Earth north or south of the Equator. ... Longitude, sometimes denoted by the Greek letter λ, describes the location of a place on Earth east or west of a north-south line called the Prime Meridian. ... Square kilometre (US spelling: Square kilometer), symbol km², is an SI unit of surface area. ...

See also

The Maldives has 26 Natural atolls which have been divided into 20 administrative atolls. ...

References

The Country Studies are works published by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress ( USA), freely available for use by researchers. ... The U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1789 by a constitutional convention, sets down the basic framework of American government in its seven articles. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ...

External links

  • Map of the Baa atoll
     Geography of South Asia     
Himalaya | Western Ghats | Eastern Ghats | Aravalli Range | The Nilgiris | Vindhya Range | Satpura Range | Garo Hills | Shivalik Hills | Khasi Hills | Annamalai Hills | Cardamom Hills | Sulaiman Mountains | Karakoram | Hindu Kush | Chittagong Hill Tracts | Deccan Plateau | Thar Desert | Makran | Chota Nagpur | Naga Hills | Mysore Plateau
Indo-Gangetic plain | Indus River Delta | Ganga basin | Ganges Delta | Atolls of Maldives | Coromandel Coast | Konkan | Lakshadweep | Andaman and Nicobar Islands | Sundarbans | Rann of Kutch
Main India | Pakistan | Nepal | Bhutan | Sri Lanka | Bangladesh | The Maldives

  Results from FactBites:
 
Maldives | Definition | Information | Explanation | Review | WikiCity.com - Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia, Free Content, ... (275 words)
The early history of the Maldives is obscure.
According to Maldivian legend, a Sinhalese prince named Koimale was stranded with his bride--daughter of the king of Sri Lanka--in a Maldivian lagoon and stayed on to rule as the first sultan.
Although governed as an independent Islamic sultanate for most of its history from 1153 to 1968, Maldives was a British protectorate from 1887 until July 25, 1965.
NodeWorks - Encyclopedia: Geography of the Maldives (304 words)
The Maldive islands stretch from the southern tip of India down to the equator.
There are 1,196 coral islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometers and 26 atolls of the Indian Ocean, making this one of the most disparate countries in the world.
The biggest island of the Maldives is Fuvahmulah, which is a single island and single atoll located in the southern part of the Maldives known the Gnaviyani atoll.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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