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Maldives Travel

With the continuous presence of foreign tourists, tradition coexists uneasily with modernity in Male. The Maldivians are amiable, cheerful and most of them appear well-to-do. While many women wear the hijab, I saw far fewer of them in burquas. The hijab, incidentally, was freely combined with tight tops, t-shirts and slacks. That said, the rule didn’t seem to apply to foreigners though women and men were instructed to wear clothes that covered their legs and arms (men were told that their shorts should extend below the knee).

The Maldives in happier times

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago of 1,192 coral atolls (of which 200 are inhabited), is the smallest Asian nation. These islands, barely a few meters above sea level, are a magnet for wealthy tourists and scuba-divers: the former flock to their pristine beaches, the latter come to experience their wealth of stunningly beautiful coral reefs and marine wildlife. Over the last week, the Maldives, an Islamic nation, made international headlines for violent street protests culminating in a coup d’état that overthrew its elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, who has held office since 2008. The political situation is worrying for the Maldives’ economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism. Not long ago, the Maldives were the happy isles of the Indian Ocean. Reminiscing on a visit he made to the Maldives in 2010, Yahoo! India’s Travel Editor BIJOY VENUGOPAL presents a dramatic photo-essay of a happy-go-lucky yet strangely troubled island nation