Geography Now! MALDIVES
Hey everybody, GeographyNow.com is finally launched And since you guys asked for it, We made you guys ‘Geography Now!’ notepads and buttons. Stop by the website if you’d like to get one. Thanks for the support guys! For years, you guys have been joking over and over by saying: “Oh by the time Geography Now gets to the Maldives episode, the country is gonna be underwater.” Well, Ha ha ha ha!! Guess who’s still staying afloat! Islands don’t float. – Oh yeah, hey Hannah, how you doing? I’m Marvelous! – Hannah you know, what? – What? How would you like a lot of lines in this episode? – That sounds great! – All right, you’re in. Everybody, I’m your host Barb’s. Today we are covering the world’s lowest country and one of the top tourist destinations in the world. There’s more to this place than the honeymoon bungalows on beaches. There’s a story and culture behind this place So let’s Mal-dive into it. (Barbs proud of his joke laugh) Hannah, that’s your cue. Okay, when I say a bad pun, you just slap. Okay ready? Go. I think you’re getting the hang of this! If you look at the Maldives from space, It has a funny shape, almost like little polka dots in the middle of the ocean. First of all, the country is located in the Indian Ocean right at the confluence of the Arabian Sea just below India. It is made up of 26 vertical atolls north to south and each atoll has a number of small islands and islets and sandbars About 1200 to be exact. However only 185 of them are inhabited. The country is divided into 19 Administrative divisions and two Administrative city councils: The capital Malé where nearly a quarter of the entire population lives and the city of Addu in the south. Most of the islands on the atolls are incredibly small and the largest one being Gan Island Being only 8 kilometers long in 3.4 kilometers wide. At only about 115 square miles or 300 square kilometers, This makes the Maldives the smallest country in Asia by land area. However, keep in mind though if we include water territory, the country takes up a space of about 35,000 square miles or 90,000 square kilometers, which is over 99% of their territory. After the capital city Malé, The largest cities are Addu City and Fuvamulan both in the south, and they’re the only parts of the country That are south of the Equator. Addu having the longest road in the country at 14 kilometers long connecting the various islands together over the reefs. The capital Malé in itself is only about six square kilometers in land area. But it’s also incredibly densely packed like literally, An aerial view makes it look almost like downtown Tokyo. If you fight in this country, nine times out of ten, You will most likely arrive at Malé’s Velana International which is on a completely separate island Hulhule. HueHueHue???
It’s a Brazilian inside joke. For the longest time, The only way you could transport yourself to the city was by taking a water taxi or ferry which could cost travelers Another extra fee upon arrival. Until just recently When they decided to build the bridge known as the China-Maldives friendship bridge, funded in part by China. Set to open in August 2018, This would connect the two islands for the first time allowing cars and land vehicles direct access to the airport from the capital. Otherwise
Surprisingly They have three other international airports: Hanimaadhoo International in the North, Villa International in the Middle and Gan International in the South. Some of you might be thinking: “Hey, I wanted to take a bus and check out the entire country.” Would I be able to do that? No. – Well, why is that Hannah? Well, let’s just address the obvious. The Maldives is not exactly a backpackers country. Everything is separated by water and unless you own your own boat or seaplane, Chances are, you need to hire one which will cost an extra couple hundreds or thousands of dollars And unless you know a local that’s willing to let you stay at their house and give you the best hookups, Chances are, you’ll be paying in additional hundreds to thousands of dollars for accommodations. This is why the Maldives is famous for being a honeymoon destination. About a million people visit a year and usually rent out The famous Maldivian luxury water bungalows that can go anywhere from about $500 to $2,000 a night. Usually they come complete with glass floors to view the water below, top-of-the-line furniture, Jacuzzis, Wi-Fi, air conditioning gourmet meals and even pools. – Wait, I don’t understand. You can literally dive into the beautiful ocean from your bungalow. Why would you need another pool? – Well, think about it. Why would you construct an extra bathroom in your house? Because if I don’t want to use the first one and also it kind of appreciates the value of… Ahhhh… -Property economics are fun- Yea Although most major inhabited atolls do have luxury resorts, The Maldives is so much more than that. And I would say if you want the truest Maldivian experience, You have to sail or fly to a local island run and inhabited only by the locals with no bungalows. That’s right Hannah. Islands like Vaadhoo or Fiyoari with thick palm forests, The streets of Didhoo in the north where you can watch local kids play soccer at the sports field. Oh and what’s this place? Kalaidhoo? It’s pretty big and spacious with a nice Lagoon, but no major resorts. Mmmm… It looks like you just searched Google Earth and chose any random secluded island. Yep That’s exactly what I did, and get back to work Ken! Otherwise Hannah, how would you like to mention the top notable sites? – I would. Malé’s Friday Mosque and the Golden Dome Hulhumalé’s Mosque, The tsunami monument, the President’s House, the Victory monument, Republic Square, the historic battleground of the Utheemu Ganduvaru, The damaged Buddhist stupas, the Vasho Veyo pool and if you’re curious, you can stop by this (Thilafushi) island Where they throw all their trash. But yeah, other than that, every notable site is like a luxury bungalow villa. So now we’re gonna try to give you some real good native Maldivian stuff. Luckily nature does not disappoint. Let’s discuss that. Thank You Hannah. Being the lowest country in the world, I mean their highest point is only about two meters, has its advantages and disadvantages. First of all, the atoll chains that make up the country are split into three general sections Divided by the Kardiva channel in the north and the one-and-a-half degree channel in the South named after a line of latitude that separates it. The island lies on what is called the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge an underwater volcanic plateau that stretches all the way from the southern tip of India into the middle of the Indian Ocean Close to the central Indian Ridge fault line. This plateau holds what is called the Chagos archipelago? Which contained the islands that make up the Maldives as well as the Chagos Islands or British Indian Ocean Territory? Administered by the UK and the south and lakshadweep in the north administered by India The islands are too small to harbor any rivers But some islands have small lakes and ponds and the highest point of the country would most likely be the sand dunes of Hitha-Dhoo Island. These can only reach up to about 2.4 meters. Whoo! All right, triple shot of espresso break (got any other choice, Barby?). You know what time it is? Noah, you know the deal? Take it away. – Yep. Get out of here. All these islands have pretty much the same makeup. Coral islands with nice beaches, tropic vegetation. Inhabited islands typically grow crops like bananas, Papayas, citrus, breadfruit and drumstick trees, which by the way produce benzoil. If you don’t know what that is We don’t eater. We just report it. Only about 10 percent of the actual land is cultivated for crops Due to the poor highly alkaline soil and permeation of salt water into the fresh groundwater deposits. This causes a problem as most of the residents depend on ground or rainwater for drinking purposes. Otherwise when it comes to flora and fauna, the Maldives is about going down underwater. The reefs in themselves contain nearly 200 species of coral, 11 are species of fish, 3 species of sea turtle, 12 species of whales and dolphins and 145 crab species. You can even feed stingrays or see blue bioluminescent plankton wash upon the shores Lighting up the beaches on certain islands if you’re lucky. No surprise, The Maldives is a huge seafood country. Their favourite fish being the skipjack tuna, and they love cooking up yellowfin Which is actually one of their national animals in addition to the white-breasted waterhen. That being said; The majority of food products must be imported as they cannot sustain their entire populace Let alone visitors base off limited resources that they have. Speaking of the populous… Once again, that was Noah thank you follow him on instagram. Send in fan mail, whatever you want. You can find me. Alright, so now we reached the most enigmatic aspect of the Maldives, the Maldivians. Who are they and what’s their story? WELL, first of all, The country has about 450,000 people and is the smallest country in population in Asia. The country’s citizens make up somewhere around 80% of the population and identify as ethnically Maldivian or “Dhivehi”, Whereas the rest of the population are foreign expats and some illegal immigrants, mostly coming from Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. They use the Maldivian rufiyaa as their currency. They use the types A, D, G, J, K and L plug outlets. When you have a ton of tourists, you kind of have to accommodate and be creative. And they drive on the left side of the road. Now before we move on, We might need to explain first what exactly an ethnic Maldivian is. Well for one the Maldivian are part of the broader Dhivehi ethnic group Which are kind of separated into three categories: The main group located on all the islands from the top to Laamu which make up about 70% of Dhivehis, The southern group which inhabit the three southernmost atolls of the Maldives. They have a different accent and are closely related to the original Maldivians And finally, the Minicoy or the northernmost people which used to be part of the Maldives But then they seceded themselves to India and became part of the Lakshadweep Union Territory. It’s kind of like what Mayotte did with the Comoros. [Comoros] Yeah. I know don’t remind me (Mayotte). The language they speak is called Dhivehi, a cousin of Sinhalese. It has kind of like a slight Arabic mixed to it and they write in a script called the Thanna Which is also inspired off of Arabic. They used to have their own ancient writing system, but just like Javanese in Indonesia, it died out in the 20th century. [Indonesia] Yeah, I know don’t remind me (Javanese language). Otherwise, English is widely spoken especially in a tourism sector (WHY COMOROS FLAG??) Unfortunately freedom of religion is not quite exactly existent in the country. The country’s official state religion is Islam, practiced or at least claimed by over 98% of the population And by default, all citizens by decree of the Constitution are required to be Muslim. They are not allowed to renounce or convert and non-muslims are almost never granted citizenship. Non-citizens and visitors of course are free to believe whatever they want But they are not allowed to publicly proselytize or practice anything other than Islam. Which is strange because for the longest time, the Maldives was a heavily Buddhist country for centuries. We’ll get into that later. Culture-wise, They are seafarers, ocean people. But they aren’t sailing the traditional Dhoni boats, their swimming or fishing Making crafty or blade patterns using swing beds making lacquer ware or pattern mats. And don’t be shocked to find people dancing on the beach playing music with the strange Bubul Tarang instrument. Which brings us to history. We don’t have enough time to get into it But in the quickest way I can put it: Giraavaru people, the first settlers come in from South India, The arrival of the Sinhalese people, The first royal dynasties, Buddhist period/Lunar dynasty, Conversion to Islam, The Portuguese come in, British protectorate, Country becomes a republic, Tourism starts in the 70s, Reign of President Maumoon, The 2004 tsunami, Democratic elections in 2008, Post tsunami development boom, And here we are today. In addition some famous or notable Maldivian people throughout history might include: Ibrahim Nasir, Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Mohamed Nasheed, Singer Unoosha, Niuma Muhammad, Suneetha Ali, Seezan Ali, Ali Rameez, Naifaru Dhohokko, Naazmi Johnston, Hasan Saaid, Ahmed Ridwan and Yameen Rasheed. All right, that was quite a few interestingly pronounced names. Let’s move on to the Friendzone! Now the Maldives is a high tourism country, but they are also a very high diplomatic country as well. The UK is probably the closest European friend as they still hold ties from being a British protectorate. However, things got a little weird after they decided to leave the Commonwealth. With India, it’s complicated because in the past they have accused India of interfering in their affairs And India has shown bitterness in the past with them doing things like declining the renewal of Indian visas and reaching out to Pakistan. Nonetheless India is still a huge player in aid and support and as much as they disagree, India has to kind of strategize their diplomacy Before China gets too cozy with them, especially after building that bridge. The UAE and Singapore are like the superhero friends that they look up to. They are the biggest import partners and they really aspire to become something like them. You know a nation limited in space and resources yet diversified and thriving economically, They always watch them and take notes. When it comes to their best friends however, Most Maldivians I have talked to have said probably Sri Lanka. The two countries have a long history and shared culture. They both speak similar languages. The Sri Lankan military trains their’s. Many tourists to the Maldives are also dependent on them as they operate in joint packages And after the 2004 tsunami, Sri Lanka was one of the first friends to jump in and help them. In conclusion, The Maldives is like the lowest nation in the world But they also kind of literally personify this saying that “When you reach the bottom, There’s only one way left to go.” Stay tuned, Mali is coming up next.