An atoll is a circular or oval-shaped reef structure with a lagoon in the centre. These structures typically form around a volcanic island that has subsided while the coral grows upwards. Coral reefs are to Sea is what rain forests are to Land. Reefs cover only 0.01% of the ocean floor but helps in survival of more than 25% of the ocean’s diversity.
The Maldives actually rests on top of an ancient volcanic mountain range and are formed by 20 natural atolls, along with a few islands and isolated reefs. The English word “Atoll” comes from atholhu – a Dhivehi term used by early geographers to describe the region’s distinctive ring-shaped coral reefs, wrapped around tranquil lagoons.
The Maldive atolls are part of the long submerged mountain range that extends from the Laccadives, or Lakshadweep, in the north, to the Chagos in the south. The range stand in the Laccadive Sea, about 700 kilometres south-west of Sri Lanka and 400 kilometres south-west of India. Archipelago is a group of islands closely scattered in a body of water so Maldives Island is often called collectively as Maldives archipelago.
You would have noticed some similarities in name of Maldive and Laccadives, both of them ending with dives. Dives word is having origination with ancient Sanskrit word of द्वीप (dvīpa) meaning Island. The Laccadives are different in structure from the Maldives. Absence of large atolls and the low density of reef and island structures distinguishes Laccadives to Maldives. Laccadives reefs have only one island on them compared to Maldives reef which have many. islands.
The atoll of Ari, with its 80 islands that extend in an area of 96 km in length and 33 km in width, is the second atoll of the Maldives for tourist expansion.
Administratively divided into two parts: the northern zone (alifu alifu) and the southern zone (alifu dhaalu), the atoll is 65 km from the capital Male and can be reached either by seaplane or by fast boat.
Famous in the world for its white and pristine beaches, the Ari atoll has become, over time, a real paradise for lovers of scuba diving: sightings of whale and hammerhead sharks as well as all the fauna that populates the coral reefs surrounding the lagoon all around are in fact frequent.