Maldivian sailors still navigate using only the stars
Many local sailors in the Maldives still use ancient navigation techniques that have been passed down the generations for centuries.
They don’t use any modern GPS technology or even a ship’s compass to guide them around the islands. Instead they depend on the position of the stars in the sky, which can easily be observed in the clear skies above the Maldives. Experienced sailors can even sail safely around the many coral reefs simply by observing the water’s surface.
The coconut tree is honoured in the Maldives
The coconut tree is highly regarded as a vital resource in the Maldives, so much so that it’s featured in the country’s national emblem and coat of arms. As the islands are so tiny these trees are often the only natural source of shade, while their timber has long been used to build houses and the local style of boats, called dhonis.
You can thank the parrotfish for the sandy beaches
Around 95% of beach sand worldwide is made from quartz. The Maldives is different because the sand is made from coral sediment, and most of it comes from parrotfish. Parrotfish eat coral polyps along with part of the coral but pass the coral out as sediment, so it ends up as sandy deposits on the beaches. As the Maldives is surrounded by coral reefs it’s estimated that parrotfish produce about a ton of sand a year.
Some of the smallest islands in the world
One of the main draws of the Maldives is that you can find complete privacy on the tiniest of islets if you want to. Only around 200 of the islands are populated, with many having just one or two resort hotels on them. Some of the islands are used just for growing crops and other commercial activities and the very smallest islands are just a few metres wide, with the largest being around six kilometres long.