Upheaval in the Maldives: 4 things you should know

The Maldives, an archipelago nation best known for its beaches and resorts, is suddenly making headlines after its president stepped down amid protests.  But what first looked like a voluntary resignation now resembles a coup.  What's going on in the Maldives?  Here are four things you should know about the crisis.

Hussain Sinan/AP
Maldives soldiers (l.) are involved in a clash with police officers in Male, Maldives, Tuesday. Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed presented his resignation in a nationally televised address Tuesday afternoon after police joined the protesters and then clashed with soldiers in the streets.

1. Where are the Maldives?

Rich Clabaugh/Staff

The Maldives are a 1,200-island archipelago in the Indian Ocean, about 300 miles southwest of India's southern tip.  Nearly 400,000 people live in the island nation, which achieved independence in 1965 after nearly a century as a British protectorate.  The population is predominately Sunni Muslim.

The Maldives' primary industry is tourism. Resorts dot the islands to take advantage of the white sandy beaches and blue waters, which some 650,000 tourists visit each year. 

The nation also has a growing ecotourism sector, no doubt in part because of the nation's concern about rising sea levels: Most of the Maldives' islands are within one meter (about 3 feet) of sea level. President Mohamed Nasheed has tried to increase international awareness about the threat it poses, going so far as to hold a cabinet meeting underwater to illustrate the point.

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