Situated to the southwest of India, right in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives scatters its 1,200 islands over an area more than 800 km long and 120 km wide. Straddling the equator, the country experiences 12 hour days (6am – 6pm) throughout the year. The equatorial climate provides all year round for a temperature hovering around 30°C. Two monsoons divide the year into a dry season, from December to March, and a wet season, from May to October. The months of November and April correspond to the transition periods: clement weather with nonetheless a slight risk of rain. The Maldives has a population of 250,000 of Muslim faith. Of the 1,200 islands recorded, only 200 are inhabited and of those 87 are island hotels. The official language is Dhivehi (the parent of Sinhalese), but English is much spoken. Political stability has been ensured since the election of the current president Gayoom in 1978.