Home to some of the world's most luxurious pampering getaways, The Maldives are a top destination for a quiet romantic holiday or for spending time with your new baby.
The Republic of Maldives is made of a double string of 1,190 coral islands to the southwest of Sri Lanka, stretching north to just south of the equator. This archipelago is 130 kilometres (81 miles) at its widest point and 820 kilometres (510 miles) in length, is also the flattest in the world, with the highest natural land less than 2.4 metres (8 feet) above sea level.
Grouped into 26 atolls – ring-shaped coral formations enclosing a lagoon, which provide a natural defence against wind and wave – the Maldives covers a total area of 859,000 square kilometres (331,661 square miles), yet only 1% of this is land.
With only 200 inhabited islands and an additional 98 islands developed exclusively as tourist resorts, tourism is the dominant support for the economy. Malé is the capital of the Republic of Maldives, an island 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) long and 1 kilometre (0.6 mile) wide.
Though built to the edge, Malé is clean and quaint, with markets, mosques and a maze of small streets with approximately 103,000 inhabitants.