The Maldives, officially Republic of Maldives, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atollsstretching in a north-south direction off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island andChagos Archipelago. It stands in the Laccadive Sea, about seven hundred kilometers (435 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka and (250 mi) south-west of India. During the colonial era, the Dutch referred to the country as Maldivische Eilanden in their documentation, while Maldive Island is the anglicized version of the local name used by the British, which later came to be written 'Maldives'.
The Maldives are the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. With an average ground level of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the lowest country on the planet. It is also the country with the lowest highest point in the world, at 2.3 metres (7 ft 7 in).