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Geography and Climate

The Maldives is an archipelago of about 1190 islands grouped into natural coral atolls.

One would expect the Indian Ocean, like any of the other oceans to have its waves and other phenomena related to large bodies of water. The Indian Ocean does fulfill this expectation till one begins to approach any of the coral atolls right in the middle of it.

An atoll is best visualized as an series of concentric layers. The outermost layer of the atoll is a strong reef. Composed of coral debris and living coral, this reef is a formidable barrier against rough seas. Once you gain access into the calm waters within, one is within the lagoon of the atoll proper.

The islands of the atoll follow the outer reef. Sometimes an occasional island juts up from inside the lagoon.

Each island has its own fringing reef. This adds to the protection. The water within this reef is often quite shallow. That aquamarine halo around the island in your picture postcard is this.

Even though the islands of the Maldives are well sheltered from oceanic waves, the ocean plays a major role in the climate of the country. It acts as a heat buffer, storing and giving up heat at a much slower rate than solid ground. Temperatures usually fluctuate between 23C and maximum 32C. There is always a cooling breeze blowing in from the sea.

The Maldives straddle the equator and lies outside the Indian Ocean cyclone belt.

Some people find the Maldivian climate monotonous. Length of day never varies. Normally in June & July the southwest monsoon is said to bring the rain.

Land Formation.

* Subsided volcano type coral atoll.

* Strong fringe reef round each natural atoll.

* Channel or breaks in fringe reef provide access to inner lagoons.

* Islands normally set at a slight distance parallel to fringe reef..

* Some isolated islands in central lagoons.

* Each island has a house reef.

* Water within house reef very shallow.

* Island consists of coral debris ground into fine white sand. Highest point above sea level 1.5m.


* Equatorial = night cycle.

* No season

* Two regional monsoon (SW & NW); SW brings rain.

* Temperature: max. 32C, min. 23C, norm. 30C.

* Sea provides "buffer". Cooling sea breezes.

* Humidity normally high.

* Unpredictable tropical showers.

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