The Maldives territory is comprised of approximately 1190 small, low-lying coral islands and innumerable reefs; together these form 26 atolls that stretch across the Indian Ocean in a vertical strip about 850km long and 130km wide.
Only 0.3% of Maldives territory is dry land however, in compliance with international law, an exclusive economic zone is exercised in neighbouring areas of the Indian Ocean.
The Maldives finds itself in a specialist position as a small island nation within a great ocean. The inability to survive self-sufficiently has been eased as closer relationships have developed with other states. In addition, the two major industries of tourism and fishing rely heavily on the maintenance and preservation of the environment. As a result strict regulations are enforced to ensure sustainability; net fishing and trawling are both prohibited in Maldivian waters however the migratory nature of the main focus of fishing, tuna, means such measures cannot be fully effective.