years ago, in a tumult of geological change, a great range of
volcanoes rose from the floor
of the Indian Ocean. Over the years the volcanoes sank back
leaving only coral reefs in the expanse of the sea. They
finally transformed into tiny islands, and adventurous sailors
in search of wealth, drifted upon them.
Only an hour's flight
away from India or Sri Lanka, the Maldives today is best known
for its white sandy beaches, crystalline lagoons and azure
blue skies - a holiday maker's dream.
The Maldives Islands
comprises of roughly 1190 small coral islands, and covers a
total area of 104,00.00 sq. Kilometers. These islands are no
more than six feet above sea level and lie 73 degrees East
Equator. The islands are grouped into nineteen administrative
'atolls', and vary in size and character. Some are sandbanks,
while others are tropical islands, with lush vegetation,
ringed with coral reefs, turquoise lagoons full of marine
life, and white sandy beaches.
C O N O M Y
industries in the Maldives are fishing and tourism. Maldives
exports canned tuna, dried and frozen fish, tropical aquarium
fish and also fresh frozen Shashimi - all caught from the
uncontaminated and chemical free waters of the Maldives. The
Tourist arrivals have maintained a growth of about 10% over
the last many years. Maldives now receives over 300,000
tourists per year.
Several scheduled air
services as well as charter flights serve the capital Male'.
It is about 10 hours flying from London via Dubai, or 4 hours
from Karachi, 1 hour from Colombo and 4 hours from Singapore.
R I E F H I S T O R Y
The country has a long
and eventful history and has been an independent sovereign
state except for a brief occupation by the Portuguese during
the 16th century. Maldives became a British Protectorate in
the mid-fifties and gained full independence in July 26, 1965.
That same year it also became a member of the United Nations.
The country has a Republican government with an elected
president as the head of the state. It was converted to Islam
in the 12th century AD. Maldives has been a100% Muslim State
for more than 800 years.
Maldivian History only begins in the twelfth century, literary
works and archeological remains provide clues to earlier
pre-Islamic eras. Maldives was a port of call for many great
sea faring civilizations that roamed the high seas, long
before European Maritime History began. A roman coin dated 90
BC has been discovered in the Maldives, and since it Was the
Egyptians who taught the Romans how to cross the Indian Ocean,
it may not be fanciful to imagine the great Egyptian papyrus
boats with their colorful square sails sailing towards the
Maldives. Perhaps the Maldivians modeled the elegant curved
bows of their boats from the Egyptians, and the Women, the
beautifully embroidered collar pieces of their dresses.
E A R L Y V I
S T O R S
The first reference to
Maldives is in the second century writings of the Greek
astronomer, mathematician and geographer, Ptolemy, who refers
to it as "1378 little Islands west of Taprobane (Sri Lanka).
Since then, many travelers have referred to it:
Pappus Alexandria who
lived at the end of the 4th century mentions Taprobane and
the 1370 adjacent islands.
Theban who visited the Malabar Coasts mentions "a thousand
islands and their treacherous nature since they had
loadstone rocks which attracted iron-bound vessels to their
The Persian Merchant
Suleiman (9th Century) who crossed the Indian Ocean, wrote:
" in the sea known as the sea of Herkend, there are nearly
1900 islands and the ruler is a woman, and that their wealth
consisted of cowries".
Ma Huan who traveled
with Cheng Ho's great expedition to east Africa in 1433,
identifies some of the islands and tells how foreign ships
travel from afar to purchase ropes, in his Overall Survey of
the Ocean's Shores.
At the time of the Ming
Dynasty, the Chinese were familiar with the islands and called
it the submerged mountain chain (Liu Shan), and wrote aboute
the climate, geography, and customs of these islands.
E O P L E
Maldivians are a
homogenous people - of one race, one culture, and one
religion, Islam. Physically, Maldivians resemble Asian, Arab,
Negroid and a Mongoloid mix.
The people are friendly
and naturally "sunny and warm". The population of the Maldives
is around 260,000. with a literacy rate of 98%. From the
1960's English medium Education has been introduced and is now
The Maldivian language,
Dhivehi, is the national language. And is a derivation of a
mix of Sinhalese, Tamil, Urdu, Persian and Arabic. The
Maldivian script is known as 'Thaana" and it written from left
Maldives is located in
the Indian Ocean, to the South West of India. The islands
form 26 natural atolls, each enclosed by a coral reef cut by
several deep natural channels. Each island is also surrounded
by a protective coral reef and shallow lagoon.
I N H A B I T E D I S
L A N D S
There are a total of 1190
islands and only 207 islands are inhabited.
R I G I N O F M A L D I V I A N S
origin of the Maldivian people are shrouded in mystery. The
faces of today's Maldivians reflect the influence of Arabs,
Africans, and Indonesians who have contributed to the racial
and cultural melting pot of Maldives.