Sat, Apr 22, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Spotlight on Maldives 「寰宇聚焦 -- 馬爾地夫」

The Republic of Maldives is an island nation located in the Indian Ocean about 500km from India. Although the country is made up of 1,192 different islands, only about 200 are inhabited by the 360,000 citizens of the republic. Take a look at the Maldives and see why tropical islands are always nice to visit, but can be challenging and precarious places to live. 馬爾地夫共和國是位於印度洋上的島國,距印度約五百公里。雖然這個國家是由一千一百九十二個島嶼組成,但全國三十六萬的人口只分布在約兩百個島嶼上。讓我們一窺馬爾地夫,看這些熱帶島嶼為何總是引人入勝,不過在那裡生活,也可能極具危險與挑戰。

Maldivian boys play in the water in Male, the capital of Maldives. 在馬爾地夫的首都馬律,當地幾名男還在水中玩耍。(照片:美聯社)

PHOTO: AP

A closer look 說古論今

Maldives may be small, but throughout its history, it has been a more important country than its size would suggest. A long time ago, traders used to visit Maldives because special shells found on the islands, called cowry shells, were used as money in Asia and some parts of Africa. Not only was Maldives a source of money, it was also in an important location, right on some of the main shipping routes in the Indian Ocean.

As a result, Maldives has always attracted attention from larger and more powerful countries. The Portuguese first took control of the islands in 1558, but were later driven out by a revolt. After that, the Dutch and British set up bases on the islands, although they let the the Maldivians rule themselves. Maldives finally gained full independence in 1965.

The economy is centered around fishing and tourism. The tourist hotels are located on seperate islands, but contact between visitors and citizens is discouraged. Because of this, many tourists don't get to experience Maldivian culture, which comes from a mixture of the cultures of the Indian, Sri Lankan, Arab and African immigrants that have settled on the islands. The country is almost entirely Islamic, and because of its isolation from mainstream Islam, many of the people's religious beliefs have been preserved from ancient Islam. According to the statistics, Maldivies has the highest divorce rate in the world.  (Taipei Times)

馬爾地夫也許不大,但縱觀古今歷史,馬爾地夫一直是無法以大小來衡量的重要國家。很久以前,貿易商經常為了群島上所發現的特殊「瑪瑙貝」而走訪馬爾地夫。當時亞洲與非洲部分國家是以瑪瑙貝來做為貨幣。馬爾地夫不只是貨幣材質的來源,地理位置也相當重要,是印度洋部分主要運輸幹道的必經之途。

正因為如此,馬爾地夫總是引起列強覬覦。葡萄牙人率先在一五五八年掌控這些小島,但後來因當地人民起義而遭驅逐。荷蘭人與英國人隨後在這些島上設立基地,但讓當地人民自治。馬爾地夫在一九六五年終於獲得完全獨立。

A look at context 思前想後猜字義

1.The hikers were in a precarious situation when they ran out of food 100km from the nearest town.

Precarious means ...

a. hungry.

b. unexpected.

c. risky, dangerous.

d. unbelievable, crazy.

2. There was a revolt after the king raised taxes for the poor and lowered them for the rich.

A revolt is ...

a. anger over unfair taxes.

b. unhappiness among the people.

c. an attempt to get rid of the government.

d. a new policy or law that people don't like.

3.That country has tried to preserve its culture by not letting any foreigners live there.

To preserve something is to ...

a. keep it the same.

b. share it with other people.

c. not let anyone else see it.

d. keep it a secret.

4. Some of the rainwater goes into the rivers and some of it seeps into the ground.

if something seeps, it

a. dries up.

b. moves into something slowly.

c. flows away into a larger body of water.

d. becomes polluted.

Ans: 1.c 2.c 3.a 4.b


馬爾地夫的經濟著重在漁業與觀光業。觀光飯店遍佈各個島嶼,但不鼓勵遊客與當地人民間的交流。正因為如此,許多遊客無法深入體驗揉合印度、斯里蘭卡、阿拉伯與非洲移民的馬爾地夫文化。馬爾地夫舉國上下幾乎全數為伊斯蘭教徒。由於當地遺世獨立於伊斯蘭主流教派之外,人民的宗教信仰多保留了古老的伊斯蘭教信仰。根據統計,馬爾地夫是世界上離婚率最高的國家。 (翻譯:賴美君)

DO YOU KNOW? 你知道嗎?

Maldives is the flattest country in the world. The highest point on any of the islands is only 2.4m above sea level, and the average height of all the islands is 1.8m. Because the Maldivian islands are just barely poking out of the water, many people worry that if global warming continues and sea levels continue to rise (they have risen 20cm in the last 100 years), Maldives could become completely submerged. The low elevation also affects farming on the islands. Because there is so much salt in the earth from the ocean's salt water, only plants that can tolerate salty soil, like banana and coconut trees, can be grown on the island. It can also be hard to dig wells for drinking water because the salty sea water can seep into the wells.

馬爾地夫是全世界最坦平的國家。諸島上的最高點只有海拔二點四公尺,各島的平均高度為一點八公尺。由於馬爾地夫群島都只高出水面一丁點,許多人憂心全球暖化若持續下去,海平面持續上升(過去一百年已上升了二十公分),馬爾地夫可能會慘遭滅頂。海拔點低也影響了馬爾地夫群島的農業發展。由於鹹海水造成土壤鹽分太高,只有如香蕉、椰子樹等耐得住鹹土的植物才能在此生長。在馬爾地夫想鑿井飲水也很困難,原因是海水可能會滲進井內。

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