Maldives profile: Island paradise just 6ft above the sea fears being submerged
THE Maldives are at risk of becoming completely submerged by the sea, if the worst predictions for the impacts of climate change become reality.
The Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean about 435 miles south-west of Sri Lanka. It comprises 1,192 islands, of which 200 are inhabited, and is the smallest Asian country in both population and area. The capital and largest city is Mal, with a population of 103,693.
It is also the lowest nation on the planet. The country is so flat that the highest point is just 6ft above sea level.
Over the past century, sea levels have risen about 8in and communities living at the shoreline have had to move further inland.
Experts warn that further rises of the ocean could threaten the existence of Maldives.
In November 2008, president Mohamed Nasheed announced plans to look into purchasing new land in India, Sri Lanka and Australia, because of his concerns about global warming and the possibility of much of the islands being inundated with water from rising sea levels.
In March this year, he pledged to make the Maldives a zero-carbon country within a decade by moving to renewable energy.
And on 17 October, in order to raise awareness of threats from climate change to low-lying nations, he held the world's first underwater cabinet meeting.
The Maldives were devastated by the 2004 tsunami, with 14 islands having to be evacuated fully. The damage was estimated at more than 245 million – about 62 per cent of the GDP – and about 108 people died. Tourism is the main source of income.
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