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1 . Maldives     Maldives
The Maldives are a spectacular chain of 22 coral atolls which run for some 800 kilometers north to south in the Central Indian Ocean. These include the largest surface-level atolls in the world: the area of Thiladhunmathi and Miladhunmadulu Atolls (with two names, but a single atoll structure) is some 3 680 square kilometers, while Huvadhoo Atoll in the south is over 3 200 square kilometers. (The Great Chagos Bank to the south occupies an even greater area, but is now largely submerged.)

More than any other nation outside the Western Pacific, the Maldives is dependant on coral reefs for the maintenance of their land area, food, export earnings and foreign currency from tourism revenues. The Maldivian people have been estimated to have among the highest levels of per-capita fish consumption of any nation, at 125 kilos per person per year. The majority of this consumption is of tuna and other pelagic species, while the majority of export fisheries are also centered on tuna. Some reef fish are taken for local consumption, but the most important reef fishery is the capture of live bait for the offshore tuna fishery. Fish exports for the live fish markets of East and Southeast Asia have also been significant through the late 1990s, and this is having an impact on grouper stocks.

Undoubtedly the greatest concern for this entire nation is the impact of climate change. Coral bleaching and mortality have already caused significant problems: in the future such events will be exacerbated by sea-level rise, and may be further compounded by reduced calcification rates on surviving corals.
Source: Spalding, M.D., C. Ravilious and E.P. Green , 2001 , World Atlas of Coral Reefs . Prepared at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre. University of California Press,Berkeley,USA.421p. (See Document)

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