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1. NATIONS

Drama unfolds on islands facing a watery end

MALÉ, Maldives -- Flying low over the water surrounding the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives instills a sense of both freedom and foreboding. The Maldives is made up of nearly 1,200 coral islands, 200 of which are inhabited. At a maximum of 6.6 feet above sea level, it is widely acknowledged to be one of the world's most vulnerable nations to climate change. And it may be more vulnerable now than ever as the small, tranquil country struggles to weather a fierce political storm.

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