Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a chain of 1,900 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls southwest of Sri Lanka and India. The archipelago has a strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean. The government system is a republic; the chief of state and head of government is the president. Maldives has a mixed economic system which includes a variety of business and fiscal freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation. Maldives is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).