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Maldives Travel

It wasn’t just the wild birds that made for interesting watching. I was walking around the back of the resort when this colorful chap squawked amiably from a casuarina tree in what sounded like Dutch or German, swooped down and perched on my shoulder. He nibbled gently at my ear, then not so gently at my finger, and scolded me for carrying no tidbits for him. I couldn’t help feeling like Long John Silver.

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