Maldives (, , i or ), officially the Republic of Maldives (Dhivehi Raa'jeyge Jumhooriyya), is an island country and archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of India and Sri Lanka in the Laccadive Sea. The chain of twenty six atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll to the Addu Atoll. The capital and largest city is Malé, traditionally called the "King's Island."
Historically linked with the Indian subcontinent, Maldives is a Muslim-majority country. From the mid-sixteenth century colonial powers dominated the islands: Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain. The islands gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965, becoming a republic in 1968. The country is ruled by a president and its government is authoritarian. The Maldivian economy is dominated by tourism and fishing. The World Bank classifies the country as having an upper middle income economy.
Encompassing a territory spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi), Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed countries. It is the smallest Asian country in both land area and in population. The archipelago is located atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean, which also forms a terrestrial ecoregion, together with the Chagos and the Lakshadweep. With an average ground-level elevation 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 government has pledged to make Maldives a carbon-neutral country by 2019 amid concerns about rising sea-levels.