Think about a country made of a mind boggling 1,190 islands and you will begin to reckon what a headache one would have trying to count the islands that make up the Maldives. Nevertheless, when you visit, they are more than enough distortions from the number of islands in form of exotic attractions.
Made up of more than a thousand equatorial humps of sand poking their heads above the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are as strange and delicate as they are heavenly. The Maldives have turned their geographic uniqueness into an unparalleled luxury destination by limiting development of each tiny coral island to just one resort and nothing else.
The island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls stretching in a north-south direction off India's Lakshadweep islands about seven hundred kilometres (435 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka.
They are grouped into natural atolls that are protected by surrounding reefs. The islands are of pure white coral sand are low lying, the highest point on any give island being no more than a meter and a half above sea level. Coconut palms and an abundance of tropical plants make these islands an idyllic place for your holiday if you want to see nature at its best.
The Maldives actually straddles the equator. The climate is tropical with no major seasonal differences. Though the southwest monsoon does bring most of the rain, mostly around June and July, tropical rain showers can occur any time! The skies are usually clear and the sun shines brightly. That is when the cooling sea breezes, about which poems have been written, bring about the romantic in you. The local devoutly Muslim population lives entirely separately on so-called 'inhabited' islands, far from tourists who are most probably honeymooners than anything else.
The level of luxury in the Maldives is simply mind-boggling, with more and more international hotel chains opening up increasingly extravagant resorts, each with bigger rooms, more spacious private pools and more bespoke services than the last.
With about 100 resorts, all of which are entirely self-contained and run like little kingdoms, there's a huge amount of choice, although the main attractions - white sands, bath-temperature sea water and year-round heat - are the same.
At the top end of the market, the sky is the limit. Expect fleets of staff who somehow remain largely invisible during your stay, yet who all mysteriously appear to know your name if you do run into them during stealth towel-changing or mini-bar refilling mission.
In Male, you will find the world's most crowded capital city, a multi-coloured high-rise island that couldn't be further away in style from the coral islands that surround it. The Maldives can be reached by scheduled or charter flights operating on a regular basis from Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and Asia.