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Countries and Flags: Flag of Maldives

Maldives (Dhivehi: ) is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented north-south off India's Lakshadweep Islands, between Minicoy Island and Chagos Archipelago. It stands in the Laccadive Sea, about 700 kilometres south-west of Sri Lanka and 400 kilometres south-west of India. During the colonial era, the Dutch referred to the country as "Maldivische Eilanden" in their documentation, while "Maldive Islands" is the anglicised version of the local name used by the British, which later came to be written "Maldives". <br> <br>The Maldives was dominated from the mid sixteenth century by colonial powers: Portugal, the Netherlands, and Britain. In 1965, the Maldives gained independence from the British, becoming a republic. It was then ruled by a sultanate and an authoritarian government. After protests and political pressure for democracy, the first free elections in the history of the Maldives were held in 2008, leading to the election of Mohamed Nasheed. However, following the 2011-2012 Maldives Crisis and accompanying coup d'tat, Nasheed was forced to resign in February 2012. Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik was thus sworn in as the new president. <br> <br>The archipelago is located on top of the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean. Maldives also form a terrestrial ecoregion together with the Chagos and the Lakshadweep. The atolls of Maldives encompass a territory spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres, making it one of the world's most geographically dispersed countries. <br> <br>Maldives' capital and largest city Mal had a population of 103,693 in 2006. It is located at the southern edge of North Mal Atoll, in the Kaafu Atoll. It is also one of the Administrative divisions of the Maldives. Traditionally it was the King's Island where the ancient Maldive Royal dynasties were enthroned. <br> <br>Maldives is 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 planet's lowest country. It is also the country with the lowest natural highest point in the world, at 2.4 metres; the Maldives' forecast inundation is a great concern for the Maldivian people.
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