Known to only a few, this tropical paradise of countless tiny islands is scattered over 34,000 square miles. Tiny specks in a vast expanse of ocean, only 199 of some 1190 coral islands are inhabited. The islands form 26 natural atolls, each enclosed by a coral reef cut by several deep natural channels. A protective coral reef and shallow lagoon also surround each island. As most of the islands are no more than 7 feet above sea level, there are no hills or rivers in the Maldives. What you will see are tall palms, white sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons and crystal clear waters. The protective reefs are home to magnificent underwater gardens, and millions of multicolored fish, corals and shells.