Atolls in the Maldives
With nearly 1,200 islands spread over a chain of 26 atolls, the Maldives are popular with tourists seeking serene beaches, scuba diving, and surf in the Indian Ocean. The atolls, like those pictured on our homepage, are made up of coral reefs that formed around the top of now-sunken volcanoes. Some are single, ring-shaped islands enclosing lagoons while other atolls are a series of small, connected islets, many of which are uninhabited.
The country is also home to Baa Atoll, a UNESCO biosphere reserve whose numerous coral reefs, islands, and mangroves make it a globally important habitat for species including whale sharks, manta rays, and marine turtles. The Maldives archipelago is rich in biodiversity but faces an existential threat from climate change. As lowest-lying country in the world, much of which is less than 4 feet above sea level, it is extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels. By the end of the century, it is thought that the islands could disappear altogether.