The Republic of Maldives consists of 1,190 islands (approximately 200 are inhabited) in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka. It is a presidential-parliamentary democracy and has a population of fewer than 325,000, with approximately 100,000 people residing in the capital city of Malé, and an estimated 100,000 foreign workers. Beautiful atolls, inhabited by over 1,100 species of fish and other sea life, attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Tourism facilities are well developed on the resort islands.
Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. With an average ground level of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the planet's lowest country. It is also the country with the lowest natural highest point in the world, at 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in); the Maldives' forecast inundation is a great concern for the Maldivian people.