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  • Overview

    The Maldives is a group of low-lying coral islands,forming an archipelago of 26 major atolls situated south west ofSri Lanka. A small percentage of the islands are inhabited and 87are exclusively resorts, boasting tropical landscapes hugged bypicture-perfect beaches festooned with palm trees. The myriadislands are surrounded by coral reefs enclosing shallowlagoons.

    The Dhivehin people of the Maldives are descendedfrom an ethnic mix of many cultures. The history of the area wasdominated by a succession of bids for control that began withMuslim rule in the 12th-century.

    The Arabs were later supplanted by the Portuguese andthen the British, until 1965 when the Maldives finally achievedfull independence as a sultanate. The majority of Maldivians areSunni Muslims and their lifestyle follows the traditions of Islam.Traces of ancient beliefs have endured in the form of superstitionscentred on evil spirits.

    The Maldives rely on tourism and fishing for theirincome, and with the large number of foreign visitors, eco-friendlytourism is gaining popularity in order to maintain the Maldives'natural beauty for future generations. Very little tourism in theMaldives is independent, with most visitors opting forall-inclusive resorts and package tours.

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    The temperature in the Maldives is hot throughout theyear and although the humidity is relatively high, the constant seabreezes help to keep the air moving and give some relief from theheat. The weather in the Maldives is fairly constant throughout theyear, with average daily temperatures ranging from 87°F (31°C) to78°F (26°C).

    Although there aren't four distinct seasons, there isa wet season in the Maldives, which runs from April to October,when strong winds can also be expected and the weather graduallygets colder (although not by much).

    The best time to visit the Maldives is betweenDecember and April during the dry season, when the weather is hotand pleasant and there is little wind. However, this is also thetourist high season, and resorts are not only more expensive andcrowded but often fully booked and difficult to get into.

    Some travellers prefer to brave the wet season toenjoy a more peaceful and private holiday at more reasonableprices. November and April are the best months to travel to theMaldives if you are planning to do a lot of scuba diving andsnorkelling.

    Male International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated one mile (2km) northeast ofMale.
    Time: GMT +5.
    Getting to the city: There are 24-hour boat services for transfers to the city ofMalé and to various resort islands. Taxis are not available at theairport but are available at Malé.
    Car Rental: No car rental is available.
    Fascilities: Facilities at the airport include a bank, currency exchangeoffice, pharmacy, duty free shops, a free shower room, a smokinglounge, a restaurant, and a post office. There are left luggagefacilities and a first aid station.
    Parking There is no parking at Malé International Airport.
    Money:

    The Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR) is divided into 100 laari. Theresorts in the Maldives are generally expensive and travellersshould ensure they bring sufficient funds. ATMs are available, butit's best not to rely. Major credit cards are accepted at mostresorts and hotels. US Dollars can be exchanged at the airport,banks, or hotels. Guests staying at resorts can settle theiraccounts in hard foreign currency (US Dollars are best), or withcredit cards. Banks are usually closed on Fridays andSaturdays.

    Language:

    Dhivehi is the national language in Maldives. English iswidely spoken in addition to German, French, Italian, and Japanese,spoken by the resort staff.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current in Maldives is 230 volts, 50Hz. Avariety of plugs are in use, including the two-pin flat blade plugand the round three-pin plug.

    Entry Requirements:

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months fromarrival in the Maldives. A visa is required.

    British citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 monthsfrom the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa is required.

    Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa isrequired.

    Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa isrequired.

    South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa isrequired.

    Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 monthsfrom the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa is required.

    US citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6 months fromarrival in the Maldives. A visa is required.

    New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for 6months from the arrival date in the Maldives. A visa isrequired.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    All foreign passengers to the Maldives must hold onward/returntickets, and the necessary travel documentation for their nextdestination. Furthermore, visitors entering the Maldives without ahotel reservation or a Maldivian sponsor must hold proof ofsufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the country. Adisembarkation card must be filled in by every passenger, andsubmitted to the Immigration Officer upon entry into the Maldives.Nationals of most countries can obtain a tourist visa on arrival,for a maximum stay of 30 days. Extensions of stay, to a maximum of90 days from the date of the visitor's arrival in the Maldives, arepossible, by paying a fee of MVR 750 to the Department ofImmigration in Male, at least one day prior to the expiry date ofthe initial 30-day entry period. Note that a yellow fevervaccination certificate is required to enter the Maldives, ifarriving within six days of leaving or transiting through aninfected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passporthas at least six months validity remaining after your intended dateof departure from your travel destination. Visitors should have atleast USD 100 per person per day for the duration of their stay.Immigration officials often apply different rules to those statedby travel agents and official sources.

    Travel Health:

    Visitors to the Maldives should take precautionsagainst mosquito bites as cases of dengue fever and Chikungunyavirus have been reported. Visitors who will be spending a lot oftime outdoors and are at risk of animal bites may be advised to geta rabies vaccination.

    There is a good private hospital on Malé and medicalfacilities are available on all the resort islands. In the event ofdiving emergencies, a decompression chamber is available. Travelinsurance is advised for travel to the Maldives.

    If you require certain medications on holiday it isbest to take them with you, in their original packaging, with adated and signed letter from your doctor detailing what themedication is and why you need it.

    Tipping:

    Tipping is not officially encouraged in the Maldives. But it'scustomary to tip waiters and room staff in the resorts if theservice is good, even if a service charge has already beenadded.

    Safety Information:

    Crime levels are low in the Maldives but petty theft does occur.It is best not to leave goods unattended on the beaches or in hotelrooms. There is a measure of political instability and visitors areadvised to avoid public gatherings and demonstrations, particularlyon Malé Island, as these can turn violent. However, resorts in theMaldives are considered very safe and there are rarely anydisturbances.

    Local Customs:

    Maldivians are predominantly Muslim, and therefore Islamiccustoms should be respected, particularly during the month ofRamadan when eating, drinking, and smoking during daylight hoursshould be discreet as it is forbidden by the Muslim culture.

    No pornography is allowed (or any material considered offensiveunder Islamic law) and homosexuality is illegal. Same-sexrelationships are not tolerated and carry jail sentences and fines.Alcohol consumption is confined to the resorts.

    Dress is informal but nudism and topless bathing is prohibited.On visits to inhabited islands it is important to respect localcustoms that adhere to conservative dress codes, and publicobservance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited. TheMaldives has strong anti-drug laws that carry severe penalties.

    Business:

    The Maldives does a lot of trade as everything is imported.Business tends to be conducted in a more informal way, with morecasual attire in lightweight materials. Meetings are usuallyscheduled for mornings and are typically conducted in English.Women, in particular, should dress conservatively. Business hoursare usually 7.30am to 2.30pm Sunday to Thursday.

    Communications:

    The international access code for the Maldives is +960. It isbest to check whether your mobile network has roaming agreementswith the Maldives. Internet access is available in hotels and maintourist resorts.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers to the Maldives, irrespective of age, do not have topay duty on cigarettes, cigars, tobacco and gifts within reasonablequantities. Prohibited items include alcohol, firearms, pork,opium, marijuana, cocaine, pornography, and religious idols.

    Useful Contacts:

    Maldives Tourist Office: +960 323 228 orwww.visitmaldives.com

    Maldives Embassies:

    Maldives High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 72242135.

    Foreign Embassies in Maldives :

    American Embassy, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsible forMaldives): +94 11 249 8500.

    British High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsiblefor Maldives): +94 11 539 0639.

    Canadian High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsiblefor Maldives): +94 11 522 6232.

    South African High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka (alsoresponsible for Maldives): +94 11 268 9926.

    Australian High Commission, Colombo, Sri Lanka (also responsiblefor Maldives): +94 11 246 3200.

    Mission of Ireland to the UN, New York, United States (alsoresponsible for Maldives): +1 212 421 6934.

    New Zealand Consulate, Singapore (also responsible forMaldives): +65 6235 9966.

    Maldives Emergency Numbers : Emergencies: 119 (Police); 102 (Ambulance).
    Maldives