Geography & Location
Republic of the Maldives is a sovereign archipelagic nation positioned in the
Indian Ocean. Notably the South Asian Island nation has no counterpart in the
entire world in terms of its unique geography and topography.
The Maldives encompass more than 99 % of the sea and less than 1 % of the land.
The 99 % of the sea is home to one of the most diverse marine treasures of the
world. Less than 1 % of the land is a masterpiece in natural landscaping.
The Maldives comprises of 26 natural atolls consisting of dual island chains.
Incidentally the Maldivian language has the distinct pleasure of contributing to
the English word “atoll”, which was derived from the Maldivian word “atholhu”.
There are channels of various sizes between the atolls used for navigation. For
efficient administrative functioning, the 26 natural atolls are categorised into
20 administrative divisions. Particularly the island nation is located in a
strategic area with access to major international sea routes in the Indian
The Maldives, located on top of a vast underwater mountain range have around
1190 islands and sandbanks. The pearl string like islands covers a land area of
no less than 298 km2. All the islands are encircled by a lagoon blessed with
crystal clear water. These islands are protected by a reef structure, housing
one of the most exclusive and spectacular underwater life.
Maldivians are esteemed around the World for their hospitality and affability
towards their guests. Currently the population of the Maldives is 341,256.
Additionally close to 60000 registered foreigners reside in the country.
Maldivians share a similar cultural heritage, history, ancestry, homeland,
language and religion. These common factors are the reason for the unity and
harmony prevailing in the alluring islands.
Maldivian ancestral roots can be traced back to Sinhala’s of Sri Lanka,
Marathi’s and Guajarati’s of India, Arabs, Malays and Northern African
dispositions. Accordingly, Maldivians emerged from a mixed race, which has
enriched the culture and history of the country.
Presently Maldivians are adherents of the Sunni School of Islam. Maldivians
embraced Islam in 1153 AD and since then the religion has played a key role in
shaping the Maldivian society. Some of the famous landmarks in the country have
been greatly influenced by Islamic architecture.
Before converting to Islam, the Maldivians were known to practice Buddhism and
ancient paganism. Ancient Buddhist ruins are preserved in the country and
antique Buddhist artefacts are displayed in the National Museum in Male’.
Traditionally whenever guests visit a local island, the islanders will welcome
them by serving a fresh coconut drink. This tradition has continued to this day
and do not be surprised if your resort offers a beautifully decorated coconut
drink when you reach your destination!
The customs and social behaviour of the Maldivians have been greatly
influenced by the Indians, Sri Lankans, Arabs and North Africans who visited the
Maldives while traversing through the trading routes of the central Indian
Ocean. The Maldivian culture is rich and vibrant due to the infusion of various
other cultural elements.
Though Maldives was culturally influenced by other traditions, Maldivians have
built and preserved an exclusive cultural identity.
Accordingly the Maldivians converse using a language of their own; called
Dhivehi. In 1153 AD Maldivians converted to Islam and the religion has
transformed and introduced new fundamentals to the
Maldivians inherited a treasure trunk of ancient mythology and folklore that was
passed orally through generations. These myths cover fascinating stories on
various aspects of island life.
Since the islands are surrounded by sea, most folktales depict fearful sea
demons and spirits that haunt the islanders.
Life in Islands
Traditionally the island communities were very close-knit. This togetherness
is still prevailing in the small island societies. Historically roles within a
community were defined and allocated. Accordingly men will be mainly engaged in
fishery, carpentry and toddy tapping. Women were mainly engaged in household
duties and raising families.
Certain rituals and practices were followed in the islands on special occasions
like weddings. Some of these rituals survive to this day.
The advent of tourism in the 1970’s accelerated the modernisation process of the
country. Consequently novel industries were initiated and people became engaged
in them. Today an increasing number of women hold crucial positions within the
public and private sector. As a result of economic growth, dramatic lifestyle
changes were introduced.
Music and Dance
The Maldives boasts of a rich culture of music and dance. Some of the cultural
music and dances can trace their roots to distant continents. Regularly resort
islands organise cultural performances to entertain their guests. Similarly
during festivals you can observe islanders performing traditional music and
One of the most famous Maldivian cultural displays which involve singing and
dancing is called the “Bodu Beru”. The origins of this spectacle can be traced
back to East and South West Africa. The Bodu Beru performers, numbering around
20 will be wearing traditional garb of sarongs and white sleeved shirts. Bodu
Beru performance is guaranteed to make you sway along with the drumbeats.
Other traditional music and dance items include; Dhandi Jehun, Langiri, Thaara
and Gaa Odi Lava. Most of these items involve rhythmic music and dances using
various cultural props.
There are some cultural routines exclusively performed by Maldivian women. They
include; Bandiyaa jehun, Maafathi Neshun and Bolimalaafath Neshun. Some of these
acts were designed to perform in the royal courts
Indian and Western music have also greatly influenced the musicians of the
country. Frequently resorts host performances of local bands to enliven their
Maldivians are known for being avid craftsmen. The intricate stone carvings
found in the Friday Mosque in Male’ is a living example of Maldivian
craftsmanship. Accordingly the Friday Mosque is a very popular tourist
The mastery and inventiveness of Maldivians can be seen in lacquer works, mat
weaving, coir rope making and calligraphy. Traditional dresses and ornaments
profess the artistry and creativeness of Maldivian artisans. Such exceptional
works can be acquired by visitors as souvenirs.
A visit to the Maldives not only guarantees the best vacation of your lifetime,
but it also gives you exposure to a great cultural experience.
Male’ is the capital city of the Maldives and the seat of the executive,
legislature and judicial branches of the government of the Maldives. Male’ is
also the financial and commercial capital of the country. Accordingly major
government offices, banks and businesses are based on Male’.
Male’ city is one of the most densely populated cities of the world.
Administratively neighbouring islands of Villingili and Hulhumale’ are
considered as constituencies of Male’ City. Hulhumale’ is an artificially
Access and accommodations
You can reach the bustling capital of the Maldives via ferry boats operated
round the clock between the airport island Hulhule’ and Male’ City.
There are luxury and budget hotels offering accommodation in the capital.
Numerous classy guest houses have also opened up in neighbouring Hulhumale’ and
Villingili islands reachable through ferry boats and speed launch transfers.
Though the ancient history of the enthralling Maldives is enshrouded in mystery,
it is believed that the island nation was inhabited over 2500 years ago. Besides
the recorded early history of the Maldives is limited and few archaeological
remains of the prehistoric period survived.
The first settlers of the country are believed to be natives of the South Asian
subcontinent. Correspondingly similarities in culture and language attest to
settlers from neighbouring India and Sri Lanka inhabiting the Maldives.
The Maldives is located in a prime marine route traversed by travellers and
traders to navigate through the Indian Ocean. Accordingly the strategic and
geographical positioning of the Maldives is believed to have influenced the
early settlers to colonise the country. For medieval seafarers the Maldives was
a station to resupply their vessels with water, wood, coir and dried tuna.
Contact with the outside world
Although the Maldives was located in a geographically remote area, there are
historical records of the islanders interacting with some of the greatest human
civilisations of the time.
Roman historical records of 362 AD mention of a Maldivian delegation visiting
Emperor Julian bearing gifts. Similarly Chinese historical documents of 662 AD
records, Maldivian king sending gifts to the Chinese emperor Kao-Tsung of Tang
Copper plates called Loamaafaanu scribed with Maldivian texts on the orders of
Kings survive to this day and are displayed at the National Museum. These copper
plated texts preserve some significant historical information about the
In the medieval period navigating the precarious Maldivian waters were a
challenging affair. Consequently many shipwrecks occurred. One such shipwreck
resulted in the French navigator François Pyrard of Laval enduring a Maldivian
adventure from 1602-1607. Pyrad’s chronicle which was published in 1611 portrays
a detailed insight on the life of Maldivians.
Overseas travellers from far-off lands have contributed immensely to the
Maldivian history through publishing their experiences. Such noteworthy
chronicled contributions from Chinese historian Ma Huan and the famous Arab
traveller Ibn Batuta have survived to this day.
For a long period the Maldivians were followers of Buddhism. It is widely
believed that Buddhism was introduced to the islands from the neighbouring Sri
Lanka. From 1878 onwards H. C. P. Bell, a British archaeologist conducted
extensive investigations on the Buddhist ruins found in the Maldives. Before
Buddhism became the dominant religion of the Maldives, there are signs
indicating that since antiquity Maldivians practiced versions of Paganism and
Hinduism as well.
Maldivians began to embrace Islam en masse in the year 1153 AD. There are many
folklores and legends associated with the conversion story. One such folklore
states that the Maldivians were haunted by a sea demon named Rannamaari. To
appease this sea demon the islanders were forced to present a virgin girl every
According to legend a Moroccan scholar, Abu-al Barakath Yusuf al Barbaree who
was visiting the Maldives during this period, rescued the Maldives from this sea
demon and convinced the king to adopt Islam.
The Medhu Ziyaarai shrine, a popular tourist attraction found a few steps away
from the Friday Mosque in Male’ is believed to be the final resting place of
this Moroccan scholar.
Throughout the recorded history the Maldives existed as an independent polity
for the most part. However, there were brief periods of foreign aggressions
perpetrated by colonial masters and neighbouring powers.
The Maldivians love and value their freedom. Hence, whenever the country faced
any foreign aggression, the heroes of the nation fought bravely to preserve the
sovereignty of the country.
Starting from 1558 the Portuguese invaded the Maldives for a period of 15 years.
The Maldivian national hero, Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Auzam led a successful
uprising against the Portuguese aggressors and freed the country. This event is
marked annually as the National Day of the Maldives.
There was a brief period during the mid-seventeenth century where the Dutch
asserted control over Maldivian affairs. Subsequently on 1887 under an agreement
the Maldives became a British Protectorate.
The British Royal Air Force operated an airfield on the Gan island of Addu
Atoll. This airfield was active during the Second World War. Today this airfield
has become the Gan International Airport, the gateway to the southern region of
Becoming a Republic
For much of the known history, the Maldives were ruled by successive kings and
queens belonging to different dynasties. However, on 1932 the first constitution
of the country was adopted paving way for a republic.
The short lived First Republic was declared on 1953 with Mohamed Amin as the
First President. However, the sultanate again made a comeback and lasted until
1968 when the Second Republic was proclaimed.
Under the premiership of Ibrahim Nasir, who became the First President of the
Second Republic, Maldives gained independence from the United Kingdom on 26th
July 1965. A new constitution was adopted and the Maldives embarked on a rapid
modernisation process. The existing fishing industry was upgraded, and the first
airport of the country was opened in Hulhulhe’ island on 12th April 1966.
During this period the Maldives began to explore new economic opportunities.
This resulted in the opening of the first resort in 1972. Since, then the
tourism industry has flourished in the country. Today the Maldivian tourism
Industry is regarded as one of the best in the entire world.
Although the Maldives is small in size, the country has built and enhanced a
respectable reputation in the international arena. At present the Maldives leads
the way in advocating for the protection of small countries and preserving the
Weather & Climate
Maldives, the sunny side of life is blessed with magical and breathtaking
displays of sunshine for the better part of a year. Similar to tropical
countries, the Maldives enjoys a dry and wet season. Conveniently, the hot and
humid weather is complemented with cooling sea breezes and periodic rain.
The dry season or the Northeast Monsoon locally known as “Iruvai” continues from
January to March. While the wet season or the Southwest Monsoon locally known as
“Hulhangu” progress from Mid-May to November. Traditionally the natives used a
calendar called “nakaiy” to identify weather developments.
Amidst the two seasons, there is little or no change in the temperature. This
makes every season the best season to visit the Maldives. Likewise packing for a
holiday in the Maldives is undemanding due to the uniform weather forecasts.
On average the daily temperature may fluctuate from 31 °C during the day to 23
°C in the night. The highest temperature ever recorded in the Maldives was 36.8
°C. Whereas the lowest temperature ever recorded in the Maldives was 17.2 °C.
The dry season is the season for admirers and enthusiasts of the sun. Throughout
the dry season you are assured of beautiful and bright sunshine. Accordingly the
seas are serene with clear blue skies. There is only sporadic rain during this
season. Hence, this is the ultimate season for sunbathing, sunset watching and
The wet season showers torrential rain to the Maldives. Occasional thunderstorms
and strong winds are the norm of this season. Consequently large waves and
swells are generated in the ocean. As a result, the wet season is the most
favourable occasion for surfers to showcase their flair in the great surf spots
of the country. Nevertheless, the sun announces its presence on interludes, even
during the wet season by bursting forth from the cloudy skies, dispensing rays
of bright sunshine.
The national language of the Maldives is called Dhivehi. There are varying
dialects of Dhivehilanguage, especially in the southern parts of the country.
However, formal Dhivehi is used in all the official and written communications.
Similarly Dhivehi is spoken in the Indian administered territory of Minicoy.
Dhivehilanguage is an offshoot of the Indo-Aryan language family. Various
languages in South Asia, Europe and Arabic language in particular has
contributed greatly to the evolution of Dhivehi language.
The writing history of Dhivehi language can be traced back to over 800 years.
Dhivehi language is written using Thaana script, which is written in the right
to left direction. Previously DhivesAkuru script was used until the 18th century
Though Dhivehi is the official language, English language is widely spoken in
the country. English is also used as the business language.
Foremost resort islands and hotels employee translators who can converse in
different languages. Consequently speakers of renowned international languages
like English, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and
Japanese can easily be located in the Maldives tourist establishments.
Flora & Fauna
The Maldives is embellished and ornamented with one of the most diverse flora
and fauna found in the entire world. Uniquely the marine flora and fauna
originating in the Maldives is peerless.
The Maldives boasts of one of the most disparate underwater sceneries on earth.
Gardens of coral reefs resemble a work of art that has mesmerised scuba divers
from around the world. The open sea and reefs are inhabited by over 2000 species
of colourful fish of various proportions.
The skylines of most of the Islands are highlighted by the coconut palm tree,
which is also the national tree. The shorelines of the islands are covered by
variety of grass, sedge, shrubs and trees. The tallest tree found in the
Maldives is the banyan tree.
Terrestrial animals and birds are limited in the Maldives, due to the tropical
nature of the country. However, a rich collection of marine birds calls Maldives
home. Over 160 species of birds have been recorded in the Maldives.
Visa and Immigration
The beautiful country of the Maldives welcomes everyone with open arms.
Accordingly the Maldives is one of the easiest countries in terms of visa and
Any tourist from any nationality is granted a free 30 day visa on arrival to the
Maldives. Hence, there is no need for you to undergo any hassle with regards to
obtaining prior visa. Once you reach the airport, Immigration personnel will
assist you with the visa procedures.
Obtaining Tourist Visa
The free 30 day visa is granted upon complying with the following procedures:
• Visitor should have a valid passport or travel document authorised by a
• Visitor should have a valid return ticket to exit the Maldives.
• Visitor should have the financial capacity to cover the expenses for the
duration of the stay or a confirmed reservation from a tourist Hotel or Resort
in the Maldives. The financial capacity is measured by US$100 + $50 dollars per
The Department of Immigration and Emigration reserves the right to issue a visa
for any number of days, not exceeding the 30 day limit. Immigration department
reserves the right to deport any person:
• Using the tourist visa to work in the Maldives
• Participates or incites unlawful activities
• Disrupting the political and religious harmony of the country
• Becoming a nuisance to the public
Extending Tourist Visa
The free 30 day visa period can be extended for a further 60 days, totalling 90
days including the original free visa period of 30 day.
To extend the Tourist Visa the following procedures should be followed:
• Extension application should be made through the “Visa Extension Application
Form” to the Department of Immigration and Emigration, before the expiry of the
free 30 days visa.
• Department of Immigration and Emigration will re-evaluate the financial
capacity of the applicant.
• A fee of MVR 750 (Seven Hundred and Fifty Rufiyaa) will be levied for visa
Visit the website of the Department of Immigration and Emigration http://www.immigration.gov.mv
for detailed information about Tourist Visa and immigration requirements.
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