The Republic of Maldives, a tiny nation made up of more than a thousand islands, sits a mere meter above water. With the sea-level rises expected by the end of this century, its inhabitants are facing displacement.
Seen from the air, Utheemu – in the northern Maldives – looks like a tiny green jellyfish floating alone in the vast Indian Ocean. It’s a typical Maldivian island: Its clean-swept streets, freshly white-washed houses, and pots of flowers outside every home show the deep love that the 345,000 Maldivians have for their homeland.
After centuries of living on remote atolls, the people of Utheemu have adapted well to living with water. The sea, for them, is the source of livelihood: their food, their economy, and their leisure.
But rising sea levels and coastal erosion wrought by climate change threaten not only their way of life, but also the islands’ very existence. Like many regions along the coast of the Indian subcontinent, most of the country sits no more than a meter above water.
The scarcity of land on these small islands means many residents live in close proximity to the sea, putting them at risk of inundation.
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