The Republic of Maldives
A small but ancient nation, consisting of a chain of twenty-six coral atolls stretched across the equator along a length of 871 kilometers with 1,192 islands dotted along the Indian Ocean.
Only 188 of these islands are inhabited and 166 islands are tourist resorts. While some islands are used for agricultural and industrial purposes, hundreds of islands still remain in their pristine and natural states.
Male’ is the capital of Maldives and the seat of government. The Maldives was ruled by dynasties of Sultans until it became a republic in 1968. While little is known about the ancient history of Maldives, historical evidence suggests that Maldives was populated well over 3,000 years ago. A significant moment in Maldives’ history came with the embrace of Islam in 1153 AD, with Islam remaining as the religion of the Maldivian people during the last 869 years.
Heavily influenced by the various cultures around the rim of the Indian Ocean, Maldivian culture, craft and traditions have been shaped by the island environment and the seas that surround the islands. Dhivehi is the language of the Maldivian people, with its own script and a long and rich history of literary evolution.
The livelihood of Maldivians traditionally depended on the seas, with fishing being the main source of sustenance. While fishery still contributes significantly to the economy today, tourism is the main source of income for the Maldivian economy, with nascent and emerging markets and industries growing as well.
Not surprisingly Maldivians are master boat builders. The traditional Maldivian boat, dhoni has been shaped over centuries, resulting in a craft that perfectly suits the conditions of the Maldivian seas. Visitors from across the world arrive at Velana International Airport, the gateway to the Maldives and have the choice of the largest seaplane fleet in the world, domestic airports strategically located across the country, or a robust ferry system connecting the atolls and islands of the Maldives.