The Maldives (/ˈmɒldiːvz/, /ˈmɔːldiːvz/, Listeni/ˈmɔːldaɪvz/ or /ˈmældaɪvz/), officially the Republic of Maldives (Maldivian: Dhivehi Raa'jeyge Jumhooriyya), is a South Asian island country, located in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of India and Sri Lanka. The chain of twenty six atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to the Addu City in the south. Comprising a territory spanning roughly 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi), the Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed countries, as well as the smallest Asian country by both land area and population, with a little over 393,500 inhabitants. Malé is the capital and most populated city, traditionally called the "King's Island" for its central location.
The Maldives archipelago is located atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean, which also forms a terrestrial ecoregion, together with the Chagos and the Lakshadweep. With an average ground-level elevation of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the world's lowest country, with even its highest natural point being the lowest in the world, at 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in). Due to the subsequent risks posed by rising sea-levels, the government has pledged to make the Maldives a carbon-neutral country by 2019more than half of the population, followed by Islam and Christianity. The culture is a synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures, developed over millennia, under influences from other parts of India and abroad.