- a republic in the Indian Ocean, SW of India, consisting of about 2000 islands: British protectorate 1887–1965. 115 sq. mi. (298 sq. km). Capital: Male.
- Republic of Maldives a republic occupying an archipelago of 1087 coral islands in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka: came under British protection in 1887; became independent in 1965 and a republic in 1968; a member of the Commonwealth. The economy and infrastructure were severely damaged in the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Official language: Divehi. Official religion: (Sunni) Muslim. Currency: rufiyaa. Capital: Malé. Pop: 393 988 (2013 est). Area: 298 sq km (115 sq miles)Also known as: the Maldive Islands
probably from Sanskrit maladvipa “garland of islands,” from mala “garland” + dvipa “island.” Related: Maldivian.