Maybe you've already heard: The Maldives is sinking. So what do you do when your tourist-dependent country is slowly disappearing into the sea? If you're the Maldivian government, you create a series of floating islands that include a hotel and convention center, private villas, yacht club and 18-hole golf course.
The Maldives is the epitome of paradise with its bone-white sand, towering palms and crystal-clear waters, but the low-lying chain of 1,190 islands in the Indian Ocean will not be around forever. Sitting at an average of just five feet above sea level (with 80 percent of the Maldives less than three feet above the encroaching waves), many scientists predict that rising water levels could submerge the chain by the turn of the century.
A concerned President Mohamed Nasheed conducted the world's first underwater cabinet meeting to highlight the issue ahead of a 2009 U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen. He warned world leaders that if something is not done to reduce greenhouse gasses that are warming the planet, the Maldives will soon disappear.
Now the new government has followed suit, taking the next step to combat the problem by laying out radical plans to replace the sinking islands of the lowest country in the world with a network of man-made floating ones.
Maldives officials see the manufactured islands as the best alternative in the face of options that include relocating population centers or building defense walls, as they have around the capital of Male.