The Maldives, officially Republic of Maldives, is an 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, between Minicoy Island and Chagos Archipelago. It stands in the Laccadive Sea, about seven hundred kilometers (435 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka and (250 mi) south-west of India
This chain of islands is the centrally located archipelago among the Lakshadweep-Maldives-Chagos group of islands, which are in reality the tops of a vast undersea submarine mountain range, in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The atolls of the Maldives encompass a territory spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometers, making it one of the most dispersed countries in the world in geographic terms. It features 1,192 islets, of which two hundred are inhabited. The Republic of Maldives's capital and largest city is Malé, with a population of 103,693 (2006). It is located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll, in the Kaafu Atoll. It is also one of the Administrative divisions of the Maldives. Traditionally it was the King's Island, from where the ancient Maldive Royal dynasties ruled and where the palace was located.
The Maldives are the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. With an average ground level of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the lowest country on the planet. It is also the country with the lowest highest point in the world, at 2.3 metres (7 ft 7 in).
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