Maldives flagMaldives <<MAWL deevz or MAL dyvz>> is the smallest independent country in Asia and one of the smallest in the world. It is made up of about 1,200 small islands in the Indian Ocean, south of India. Male <<MAH lay>> is the capital and largest city.

The islands that make up the Maldives are surrounded by coral reefs. The islands have clear pools of seawater called lagoons and white sand beaches. The land is covered with grass and tropical plants. Coconut palms and fruit trees also grow there. The climate is hot and humid. The islands get at least 100 inches (250 centimeters) of rain a year.

People live on only about 210 of the country’s islands. Thousands of Maldivians catch fish for a living. Most build their own boats from coconut trees or other timber that grows on the islands. Each boat holds about 12 people. They use rods and reels to catch bonito, tuna, and other fish.

Maldives mapMost of the nation’s income comes from fishing. The government controls the fishing industry. Dried fish is sold to the neighboring country of Sri Lanka. Fish is also sold to Japan. Tourism is also important.

In 1887, the United Kingdom took over some of the country’s affairs.The Maldivian people made all their own decisions, except for matters involving other countries. In 1965, however, the Maldives became an independent country.

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