The Maldives have been inhabited for thousands of years but were "discovered" by divers only in the 1970s since when the country has developed a thriving tourism industry. The tourism development strategy is "one island one resort" and upmarket hotel and vacation facilities have been built on islands that don't have local communities. From the capital, Male, fleets of speedboats take guests to the resorts. The remoteness and luxury of the accommodation have attracted celebrities and Hollywood stars including Tom Cruise and Madonna to take their vacations in the Maldives.
Live-aboard boats are a thrilling alternative to land-based accommodation and are increasingly popular with divers. The Maldives' islands are the exposed tips of a coral reef ridge about one thousand miles long straddling the Equator, to the southwest of India and Sri Lanka.
The newest development for tourism is in the far south of the archipelago, where a former British air force base, Gan, has been transformed into a tourism village with its own airport on the old military airfield. Fishing is the main industry apart from tourism - The Maldives exports a lot of tuna and exotic seafood to Europe and Japan - and recreational fishing and diving are the main activities for visitors looking for more than a luxury beach vacation.