7 Natural Wonders of the World
New Seven Wonders of Nature-One
of 28 nominees. Winners will be announced in 2011.
Seven Wonders of Nature
an independent island nation consisting
of a chain of about 1,200 small
coral islands and sandbanks (some
200 of which are inhabited), grouped
in clusters, or atolls, in the
Indian Ocean. The islands extend
more than 510 miles (820 km) from
north to south and 80 miles (130
km) from east to west.
Atoll is the southernmost atoll
of the Maldives
The Maldives or Maldive
Islands, officially the Republic of
Maldives, is an island country consisting
of a group of atolls stretching south
of India's Lakshadweep islands between
Minicoy Island and the Chagos Archipelago,
and about seven hundred kilometres
(435 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka in
the Laccadive Sea of Indian Ocean.
The twenty-six atolls of Maldives
encompass a territory featuring 1,192
islets, of which two hundred islands
The original inhabitants
were Buddhist, probably since Ashoka's
period, in the 3rd
century BC. Islam was introduced in
1153. The Maldives then came under
the influence of the Portuguese (1558)
and the Dutch (1654) seaborne empires.
In 1887 it became a British protectorate.
In 1965, the Maldives obtained independence
from Britain (originally under the
name "Maldive Islands"),
and in 1968 the Sultanate was replaced
by a Republic.
The Maldives is the
smallest Asian country in terms of
both population and area; it is the
smallest predominantly Muslim nation
in the world. With an average ground
level of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above
sea level, it is also the country
with the lowest highest point in the
world, at 2.3 metres (7 ft 7 in).
The Maldives holds the
record for being the lowest country
in the world, with a maximum natural
ground level of only 2.3 m (7½
ft) with the average being only 1.5
m above sea level, though in areas
where construction exists this has
been increased to several metres.
Over the last century, sea levels
have risen about 20 centimetres (8
in); further rises
of the ocean could threaten the existence
of Maldives. However, around 1970
the sea level there dropped 20-30
cm. In November 2008, President Mohamed
Nasheed announced plans to look into
purchasing new land in India, Sri
Lanka, and Australia, due to his concerns
about global warming and the possibility
of much of the islands being inundated
with water from rising sea levels.
Current estimates place sea level
rise at 59 cm by the year 2100. The
purchase of land will be made from
a fund generated by tourism. The President
has explained his intentions, saying
"We do not want to leave the
Maldives, but we also do not want
to be climate refugees living in tents
A tsunami in the Indian
Ocean caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean
earthquake caused serious damage to
the socioeconomic infrastructure which
left many people homeless, and irreversible
damage to the environment. After the
disaster, cartographers are planning
to redraw the maps of the islands
due to alterations caused by the tsunami.
Wikinews has related
news: Maldives to become the world's
first carbon-neutral country
On 22 April 2008, then Maldives President
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom pleaded for a
cut in global greenhouse gas emissions,
warning that rising sea levels could
submerge the island nation of Maldives.
In 2009, subsequent president Mohamed
Nasheed pledged to make the Maldives
carbon-neutral within a decade by
moving to solar and wind power.
The reef is composed of coral debris
and living coral. This acts as a natural
barrier against the sea, forming lagoons.
Other islands, set at a distance and
parallel to the reef, have their own
protective fringe of reef. An opening
in the surrounding coral barrier allows
access to the calmer lagoon waters.
The barrier reefs of
the islands protect them from the
storms and high waves of the Indian
Ocean. The Indian Ocean has a great
effect on the climate of the country
by acting as a heat buffer, absorbing,
storing, and slowly releasing the
tropical heat. The heat is further
mitigated by cool sea breezes.
A layer of humus 152-millimetre
(6.0 in) -thick forms the top layer
of soil on the islands. Below the
humus layer are two feet of sandstone,
followed by sand and then fresh water.
Due to high levels of salt in the
soil near the beach, vegetation is
limited there to a few plants such
as shrubs, flowering plants, and small
hedges. In the interior of the island,
more vegetation such as mangrove and
banyan grow. Coconut palms, the national
tree, are able to grow almost everywhere
on the islands and are integral to
the lifestyle of the natives.
The limited vegetation
is supplemented by the abundance of
coral reefs and marine life.