An island country in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka, consisting of about 20 atolls made up of more than 2,000 coral islands. Settled by various groups from southern Asia, the islands were converted to Islam in the 1100s. The Maldives became a self-governing British protectorate in 1887 and achieved independence as a sultanate (1965) and subsequently as a republic (1968). Male is the capital.
(place) Country on a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka: a former sultanate under British protection, it became independent in 1965, a republic in 1968, & a member of the Commonwealth in 1982: 116 sq mi (300 sq km); cap. Malé