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World's Best Islands 2010

Maldives

Courtesy of COMO Hotels and Resorts

No. 9: Maldives

2009 ranking: No. 8. Sprinkled along a 34,750-square-mile stretch of Arabian Sea off the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, the Maldives’ vast collection of tiny islands (there are 1,190, though only about 200 are inhabited) is a seemingly limitless paradise of azure reef-fringed lagoons and sugary palm-shaded beaches. Some of the world’s most opulent private-island resorts are here, too—including the off-the-charts luxurious Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa and the One&Only Reethi Rah. The only downside? As the world’s lowest-lying country, the Maldives can be hard hit by southern-sea tsunamis, as it was in 2009. (Perhaps that’s why it fell one rating point since last year’s survey.)

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