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Maldives Travel

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After seven days and nights of sun, sand and seafood, I bade farewell to the Maldives. We headed for the island of Hulhule, adjoining Male, where the airport is located. Today, my thoughts go back to the islanders, those proud and hospitable Maldivian people dependent on their tourism and their fish, now troubled at the uncertainty of their country’s political future. My thoughts also went to a book I'd read long ago, Paul Theroux’s travelogue of the South Pacific islands, which he aptly titled The Happy Isles of Oceania. I wish the people of the Maldives a quick and peaceful return to happiness.

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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