[b]The Maldives ( /ˈmɒldaɪvz/ (help·info) or /ˈmɒldiːvz/), (Dhivehi:ެ Dhivehi Raa'je) or Maldive Islands, officially Republic of Maldives, is an island country in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls stretching in a north-south direction off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and Chagos Archipelago. It stands in the Laccadive Sea, about seven hundred kilometres (435 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka.
The atolls of Maldives encompass a territory spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometers, making it one of the most disparate countries in the world. It features 1,192 islets, of which two hundred are inhabited. The Republic of Maldives's capital and largest city is Malé, with a population of 103,693 (2006). It is located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll, in the Kaafu Atoll. It is also one of the Administrative divisions of the Maldives. Traditionally it was the King's Island, from where the ancient Maldive Royal dynasties ruled and where the palace was located.
The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and area. With an average ground level of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the lowest country on the planet. It is also the country with the lowest highest point in the world, at 2.3 metres[/b]