The Maldives, formally the Republic of Maldives, is an Indian Ocean island nation in South Asia. It is a country located southwest of India and Sri Lanka. From Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to Addu City in the south, the chain of twenty-six atolls spans. The Maldives, with a land area of about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles), is one of the most geographically scattered nations in the world, as well as the smallest Asian country in terms of both area and population, with little more than 393,500 people. Malé is the capital and most populous city, and has been referred to historically as “King’s Island” due to its central position.
The Maldives archipelago is situated atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a massive underwater mountain range in the Indian Ocean that, together with the Chagos and Lakshadweep, also constitutes a terrestrial ecoregion. It is the world’s lowest nation, with an average ground level height of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, and even its highest natural peak is the lowest in the world, at 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in). Due to the dangers presented by increasing sea levels, the Maldives government has committed to become a carbon-neutral nation by 2019.
Since the fourth century BCE, the Maldives have been historically and culturally connected to the Indian subcontinent. The Maldives archipelago was Islamized and established as a sultanate in the 12th century, establishing significant economic and cultural connections with Asia and Africa. From the mid-16th century, colonial powers exerted growing control over the area, culminating in the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887. Independence from the United Kingdom was gained in 1965, and a presidential republic with an elected People’s Majlis was formed in 1968. Political instability, democratic reform attempts, and environmental concerns presented by climate change have defined the subsequent decades.
The Maldives founded the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Additionally, it is a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Movement of the Non-Aligned States. The Maldives economy is classified by the World Bank as being of upper medium income.  Historically, fishing has been the primary economic activity and continues to be the biggest sector, followed by the rapidly expanding tourist industry. It is one of just two South Asian countries, along with Sri Lanka, to be ranked “high” on the Human Development Index (HDI), having the highest per capita income among SAARC members.
The Maldives was a Commonwealth republic from July 1982 to October 2016, when it withdrew in protest of worldwide criticism of its corruption and human rights records.