(photos courtesy of nattu)
Often called the most beautiful islands in the world, the Maldives are in danger if long-term climate change projections eventually come true.
Those projections conclude that if the world's ocean levels do rise in the future, then one day, the low-lying Maldive Islands will change dramatically, possibly even ceasing to exist. (My apologies for the negative outlook, but many scientists do believe that the oceans will rise within many of our lifetimes)
So what are the Maldives? They are an archipelago of almost 1,200 islands that comprise a country; you could say that it's a country of islands, one of the smallest and least populated countries on the planet in fact.
The smallest of the Asian countries, the Maldives are located about 700 kilometres off the south west of Sri Lanka, accessible by plane to the Malé International Airport. Once there, the only way to explore the various islands is by boat, and foot, and some small float planes service more remote island destinations.
The area is known for its remarkably clear water, thanks in part to its geographic isolation, which makes scuba diving and snorkeling in the local reefs amongst the most dramatic and spectacular in the world.
The first tourist resorts opened as recently as 1972 in the Maldives, and tourism now accounts for 28% of the country's GDP. About 600,000 visitors arrive each year, according to the local tourism bureau.
So, if you are hopi.jpgng to visit what many call the most beautiful islands on earth, be sure to plan a trip before it's too late.