The Maldives, a chain of some 1,200 islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, sits about 700 kilometers southwest of Sri Lanka and lures more than half a million adventurers each year. They come to this smallest of Asian countries to scuba dive, surf, fish and cruise in picturesque atolls known for white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters and coral reefs teeming with tropical fish of rainbow colors.
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