Encompassing a territory spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi), the Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed countries. It is a tropical nation known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs. It is the smallest Asian country in both land area and population. The 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 planet's lowest country.
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