Group of atoll islands in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India. A UK colony until 1965. Their major industry is tourism. About 80% of the land is a meter or less above sea level, leaving the authorities very worried about erosion and global warming.

Addition December 2004: The Maldives are in even worse shape after the earthquake with its epicenter in Indonesia sent immense tsunamis its way. Some islands were completely covered by water and the people from them had to be evacuated to other islands. The costs of rebuilding may be larger than the whole island's GDP. jasonm notes that "they're talking about giving up on some of the islands for good, with permanent resettlement. The government actually had plans before hand, but it would have wrecked the native fishing villages, etc. that they wanted to keep going. but now people are starting to realize the warnings were truthful."

Sources:
http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/mv.html
http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/12/29/maldives.ap/index.html

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