Maldives, the officially the Republic of the Maldives and also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls, oriented north-south, that lie between Minicoy Island and the Chagos Archipelago. The chains stand in the Laccadive Sea, about 700 kilometres (430 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka and 400 kilometres (250 mi) south-west of India. For the majority of its history, the Maldives has been an independent polity, despite three instances during which it was ruled by outside forces. In the mid-16th century, for fifteen years, the Maldives was dominated by the Portuguese Empire. In the mid-17th century, the Dutch Empire dominated Maldives for four months. Finally, in the late 19th century, on the brink of war, the Maldives became a British protectorate from 1887 until 1965. The Dutch referred to the islands as the "Maldivische Eilanden" (pronounced, while the British anglicised the local name for the islands first to the "Maldive Islands" and later to the "Maldives". The islands gained independence from the British Empire in 1965 and became a republic in 1968 ruled by a president and an authoritarian government.