Malé, Maldives — Famed as an upmarket tourist destination of white beaches and turquoise waters, the island nation of the Maldives is troubled by political turmoil and rising sea levels. The country is a collection of 26 atolls made up of 1,192 tiny islands scattered 800km across the equator. Only 200 islands are inhabited with the country’s population, put at 340,000 in the last census but estimated at around about 417,000 in 2016 by the World Bank. Its 298km² are home to about 3% of the world’s coral reefs. Tourism is the principal income earner, providing 41% of GDP in 2016 and nearly 20% of jobs, the World Travel and Tourism Council says. The archipelago’s beauty drew about 1.28-million tourists in 2016, according to the UN’s World Tourism Organisation data. It is a destination especially prized among honeymooners, such as Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes who visited in 2006. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom ruled with an iron fist for 30 years until 2008, when he lost the first ...

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