The Maldives

  • There are approximately 1190 island in the Maldives with some form of vegetation on them.
  • Approximately 200 are inhabited island and 990 are uninhabited.
  • There are 26 distinct geographical atolls. These are divided into 20 administrative regions, with the capital Malé making up a separate administrative unit.
  • The Maldives is 800 km long and 130 km wide.
  • More than 99% of the country is water (115,000 km2) with less than 0,3% land (300 km2).

Map of the Maldives (source:


Map of the Maldives (source:

Emboodhoo island


Emboodhoo island

Dhidhdhoo - Whale sharks of South Ari Atoll

The southern tip of South Ari Atoll is a 12km stretch of reef that hosts whale sharks year round - unlike most other Whale Sharks hotspots around the world, which are seasonal and usually coincide with feeding opportunities such as a coral or fish spawning events. It was declared a Marine Protected Area in 2009 and attracts a large and growing number of visitors. The Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) is a long term monitoring program that began in 2006 and has since had over 1000 separate Whale Shark encounters. Using a technique called photo-identification, which uses images of the shark's unique spot patterns as "fingerprints", over 170 different individual sharks have been identified. The number of "known" versus "new" sharks has enabled researchers to estimate how many whale sharks are in these waters at any one time - surprisingly few with less than 200 estimated to be in South Ari waters at any one time.

Read more: Dhidhdhoo - Whale sharks of South Ari Atoll

En Madi

"En madi" means "manta ray" in the Dhivehi language (Maldivian).


Manta Rays of the Maldives

The Maldives archipelago contains an estimated 10,000 individual manta rays - the world's largest known population of manta rays. This population primarily consists of the smaller Reef Manta Ray (Manta alfredi), but the larger Oceanic Manta Ray (Manta birostris) is occasionally seen, which accounts for less than 1% of mantas reported. Pre-2009, all mantas were designated under the species Manta birostris, but research into the Maldives population by The Manta Ecology Project, which commenced in 2001, has contributed to the current scientific opinion that there are at least two species of Manta.

Read more: En Madi