The Maldives are an archipelago of 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 coral atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts). Formerly a Sultanate under Dutch and English protection, the Maldives are now a republic. Long ruled over with an iron fist by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who did not hesitate to jail dissidents and was re-elected five times in more or less, rigged elections, resistance to his rule culminated in violent rioting in 2003 and 2004. Much to everybody's surprise, free and fair elections were finally held in 2008, and Gayoom gracefully conceded defeat to opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed, "Anni".
The Tsunami of 26 December 2004 caused extensive damage to the Maldives. Of a population of only 290,000, over a third was directly affected by the tsunami and more than 29,000 people were left homeless. It was a brutal shock to the small island state which is so vulnerable to environmental disasters and global warming.
Aside from making the water bungalow rock on your honeymoon, the primary activity on the Maldives is scuba diving. The atolls are all coral reefs hundreds of kilometers away from any major landmass, meaning that water clarity is excellent and underwater life is abundant. Manta rays, sharks, even a few wrecks...you can find it in the Maldives.