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History of Maldives

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History of Maldives

Early Settlers

Legend has it that a prince and his wife, the daughter of the King of today’s Sri Lanka, stopped at Raa Atoll during a voyage and were invited to stay as rulers.
Later King Koimala and his wife settled in Malé with permission of the Giraavaru tribe, the aboriginal tribe of Kaafu atoll. Nowadays Giraavaru people are still easily recognizable through their clothes and hairstyle, but only a few hundred of them are left and were resettled in Malé in 1978. Their island, Giraavaru has been transformed into a tourist resort. Aryans from India and Sri Lanka are believed to have settled in the Maldives from 1500 BC onwards - according to latest archaeological findings. “Elu”, an archaic form of Sinhala (spoken in Sri Lanka) shows great similarities to Dhivehi. As a favorite stop-over on the busy trade routes, the Maldives have had many visitors and influences, trading with Arabia, China and India with coconut, dried fish and above all the precious cowry shell, a small white shell found on the beach, used as currency in countries near the Indian Ocean. These shells were found as far away as Norway or West Africa showing the extent of the trade relations of the Maldives.

Conversion to Islam

Mohamed Ibn Batuta, a Moroccan traveler who visited the Maldives in the 14th century recorded an interesting legend on how the country converted to Islam. Abul Barakaath Yoosuf Al Barbary, an Islamic scholar, visited the Maldives during a time when people lived in fear of the “Rannamaari”, a sea-demon, who came out of the sea once a month threatening to destroy everything unless a virgin was sacrificed. The unfortunate young girls were chosen by lot, had to stay in a temple near the seashore and were found raped and dead in the morning. The daughter of the house he was staying at had been selected to be the victim and he decided to save her. Disguised as a girl he spent the night in the temple reciting continuously from the Holy Quran. In the morning when people went to find out the fate of the chosen girl they were amazed to find him alive and still reciting the Quran. When the King found out that the demon had been defeated through the power of the Holy Quran he embraced Islam and ordered all the subjects to follow him.

Maldivian heroes

The Portuguese had a keen interest in the Maldives due to the availability of cowry shells, and ambergris, an important ingredient in perfumes, and had been approached by the formerly expelled Sultan, Hassan IX to help him regain his throne. Three attempts were repelled mainly due to Ali Rasgefaanu, who proved to be a brave and tough fighter. He became Sultan Ali VI but only for a few months as he was killed during another Portuguese attack, dying a martyr’s death. His tomb, built at the very spot where he died in the sea is now on dry land due to the reclamation of land in Malé. Martyr’s day, a public holiday, has been devoted to him. The next 15 years saw the darkest period in Maldivian history, when the Portuguese tried to enforce Christianity upon the islanders. Mohamed Thakurufaanu and his two brothers from the island of Utheemu, used a form of guerilla warfare for eight long years, during which one of the brothers was caught and beheaded. Their strategy was to land on an island at night, kill the Portuguese in a surprise attack and sail off before dawn. Thakurufaanu sought the help of the Malabari, killed the Portuguese leader Andreas Andre, locally known as Andiri Andirin, and recaptured Malé. He was made Sultan and reigned for 12 years forming a trained standing army, introducing coins, improving trade and religious observance and founding a dynasty that lasted for 132 years.

The British Protectorate

On December 16, 1887 the Sultan of the Maldives signed a contract with the British Governor of Ceylon turning the Maldives into a British protectorate. The British government promised the Maldives military protection and non-interference in local administration in exchange for an annual tribute paid by the Maldives. In 1957 the British established a RAF base in the strategic southernmost atoll of Addu for £2000 a year, where hundreds of locals were employed. 19 years later the British government decided to give up the base, as it was too expensive to maintain.

Independence

The Maldives gained independence on July 26, 1965.Three years later a republic was declared with Prime Minister late Ibrahim Nasir as the first president. In 1978 2nd president, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom became president and was as the president for 30 years, In November 2008, Mohamed Nasheed was elected as the president has been since then.
A coup attempt in 1988 by Sri Lankan mercenaries was successfully repelled. Small as it is the Maldives has always maintained independence and a strong unity despite influences and threats from outside. They are now an internationally renowned country, a member of the UN, WHO, SAARC, Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement and others and play an important role in advocating the security of small nations and the protection of the environment.

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Posted by m-oceanic 08:59 Archived in Maldives Republic Comments (1)

Culture of Maldives

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CULTURE OF MALDIVES

Ethnicity

The origins of the Maldivian people are shrouded in mystery. The First settlers may well have been from Sri Lanka and Southern India. Some say Aryans, who sailed in their reed boats from Lothal in the Indus Valley about 4,000 years ago, probably followed them. Archeological evidence suggests the existence Hinduism and Buddhism before the country embraced Islam in 1153 A.D. Not surprisingly, the faces of today’s Maldivian display the features of various faces that inhabit the lands around the Indian Ocean shipping and maritime routes, the Maldives has long been a melting pot for African, Arab and South East Asian mariners.

Language

The language of the Maldivians is Dhivehi, a language which is placed in the Indro-Indian group of languages. Dhivehi with its roots in Sanskrit and according to some researchers Elu, an ancient form of Sinhala, (spoken in Sri Lanka), is strongly influenced by the major languages of the region. The language has been influenced heavily from Arabic since the advent of the Islam in 1153 and English in more recent times, especially since the introduction of English as a medium of education in the early 1960s.
Given the wide dispersion of islands it is not surprising that the vocabulary and pronunciation vary from atoll to atoll, with the difference being more significant in the dialects spoken in the southernmost atolls.

The Maldivian script known as thaana was invented during the 16th century soon after the country was liberated from Portuguese rule. Unlike former scripts thaana is written from right to left. This was devised to accommodate Arabic words that are frequently used in Dhivehi. There are 24 letters in the thaana alphabet.

Dhivehi Phrases

Hello (formal) Assalaamu Alaikum
Hello (informal) Kihineh?
How are you? Haalu kihineh?
Yes Aan
No Noon
Where? Kobaa?
Why? Keevve?
Who? Kaaku?
There Ethaa
Here Mithaa
What? Koacheh?
This Mi
That E
What is (your) name? Kon nameh kiyanee?
My name is Aharenge namakee
Good Ran'galhu
Goodbye (informal) Dhanee
Where are you from? Kon rasheh?
Thank you Shukuriyaa
I am sorry Ma-aafu kurey
How old are you? Umurun kihaa vareh?
My age is Aharenge umurakee
Where are (you) going? Or What place are we going? Kon thanakah dhanee?
What time are (we) going? Kon irakun dhanee?
What is the price? Agu kihaavareh?
How long will it take? Kihaa ireh nagaanee?
What time is it? Gadin kihaa ireh?
What island is that? E-ee kon rasheh?

Family Life

The close-knit island communities practice mutual aid to survive difficult circumstances. A system of extended families provide, a safety net for members of a family going through a difficult period. In addition to the parents other members of the family also contribute in the care of children. Traditionally men go out fishing during the day and women are responsible to look after the affairs of the family and vary often the community. This remains so even today in smaller island communities.

Religion

Since Maldives embraced Islam in 1153, Islam has been central to the life of Maldivians. The main events and festivals of Maldivian life follow the Muslim Calendar. From infancy children are taught the Arabic alphabet. Religious education is provided both at home and at school. Islam is part of the school curriculum and is taught concurrently with other subjects.

Food

Maldives being at an important crossroad in the Indian Ocean, traders and visitors over time have left their mark on Maldivian cuisine in addition to contributing towards the moulding of the country’s culture and norms.

As the Maldives comprises more sea than land, it is only natural that fish (mainly tuna) have always been the most prominent element of Maldivian food. However, with travelers from different parts of the world, new seasonings and vegetables were introduced in to the country and added to the existing (limited) repertoire of seafood and tubers (e.g. taro & sweet potato). Each new discovery was incorporated into the diet in quantities most palatable to Maldivians. Thus Maldivian cuisine now comprises Arabic, Indian, Sri Lanka and Oriental tastes blended into a unique cuisine that embodies a culinary identity of its own.

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Posted by m-oceanic 08:20 Archived in Maldives Republic Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

About Maldives

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FAST FACTS

Location:

Southwest of Sri Lanka, on the equator.

Geography:

1,190 coral islands, forming an archipelago of 26 major atolls. Stretches kilometres north to south and 120 kilometres east to west. 202 are inhabited, 87 are exclusive resort islands.

Climate:

Generally warm and humid. Sun shines all year through. Average temperature around 29 - 32 degrees Celsius.

What to wear:

Dress is generally casual. T-shirts and cotton clothing are most suitable. In Male’, the capital island and other inhabited islands it is recommended that women wear modest clothing without baring too much.

Population:

About 270,000 according to 1998 estimates. Origin of the Maldivians are lost in antiquity, but history reveals that the islands have been populated for over 3,000 years ago. Early settlers were travellers on the Silk Route and from the Indus Valley Civilisation. Inherently warm, friendly and hospitable by nature, it is easy to feel comfortable and relaxed with a Maldivian.

Culture:

A proud history and rich culture evolved from the first settlers who were from various parts of the world travelling the seas in ancient times. The Maldives has been a melting pot of different cultures as people from different parts of the world came here and settled down. Some of the local music and dance for instance resemble African influences, with handbeating of drums and songs in a language that is not known to any but certainly represents that of East African countries. As one would expect there is a great South Asian influence in some of the music and dancing and especially in the traditional food of the Maldivians. However many of the South Asian customs especially with regard to women - for instance the Sub Continent’s tradition of secluding women from public view - are not tenets of life here. In fact women play a major role in society - not surprising considering the fact men spend the whole day out at sea fishing. Many of the traditions are strongly related to the seas and the fact that life is dependent on the seas around us.

Language:

Dhivehi is the language spoken in all parts of the Maldives. English is widely spoken by Maldivians and visitors can easily make themselves understood getting around the capital island. In the resorts, a variety of languages are spoken by the staff including English, German, French, Italian and Japanese.

Economy:

The Maldives economy has been growing at an annual average of 10% for the past two decades. Tourism is the main industry, contributing close to 20% of the GDP. Fisheries and trade follow close behind. The Maldivian economy is regarded as exemplary in the region and welcomes foreign investment.

Currency:

The Maldivian currency is the Rufiyaa and Laaree. The exchange rate for US Dollar at the time of writing is MRf.11.82 for the dollar. One Rufiyaa is equivalent to 100 laarees. Rufiyaa bank notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500. Coins are in the denominations of MRf.2.00, MRf.1.00, 50 laarees, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 laaree. The US Dollar is the most commonly used foreign currency. Payments in the resorts and hotels can be made in most hard currency in cash, travellers’ cheques or credit cards. Commonly used credit cards are American Express, Visa, Master Card, Diners Club, JCB and Euro Card.

Education:

The functional literacy rate is 98%. Educational standards are among the highest in the region and schools follow the British system of education.

Health:

Health care facilities are improving almost on a daily basis. The Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’ is the biggest hospital in the country providing sophisticated medical care. ADK Hospital is the biggest private health care facility and follows high medical standards. Some resorts have in-house doctors. A decompression chamber is within easy reach of most resorts in case of a diving emergency.

Local Time:

GMT + 5 hours

Business Hours:

From Sunday to Thursday 07:30 - 14:30 in the government sector and generally from 09:00 to 17:00 in the private sector even in evening 20:00 to 23:00, although most offices in the private sector open for a half day on Saturday. Weekend falls on Friday and Saturday.

Communication:

Up-to-date technology and international satellite links allow Maldives to have a sophisticated communications system. IDD facilities are available on all resorts and card phones are available on all inhabited islands. Dhiraagu, the Maldives Telecommunications Company also provides mobile telephones for daily rental. It is also the Internet service provider.

Electricity:

The electric system is 230-240 Volts -AC

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GEOGRAPHY

A string of pearls scattered over the deep blue Indian Ocean - The first glimpse you get of this fascinating atoll- formation confirms two unique aspects of the Republic of Maldives.Not only does it consist of the most beautiful tropical islands, but 99% of its 90.000 km² is covered by the sea. 1190 islands are spread over 26 atolls, ringlike coral formations enclosing a lagoon, which gives the Maldives its unique paradise-like appearance. They stretch for about 820 km from North to South, 130 km at the widest point and do not exceed a length of 4.5 miles or an altitude of 6 feet above sea level. No more than 200 islands are inhabited, the rest includes the 87 tourist resorts and uninhabited islands, some of which are used for drying fish or other agricultural activities. The capital Malé, the seat of government and the centre of trade, commerce, business, health and education, is located in the middle of the atoll chain, a small island buzzing with the sounds and activities of about 75.000 people which is about one third of the population

Atoll Formation

The atolls of the Maldives are formed from coral structures, separated by lagoons. The atolls are in fact part of a greater structure known as the Laccadives-Chagos Ridge, which stretches over 2000 kilometres. The islands are low lying with the highest point at approximately 8 feet above sea level. 'Faru' or ring-shaped reef structures form the atolls and these reefs provide natural defense against wind and wave action, on these delicate islands.

Posted by m-oceanic 23:14 Archived in Maldives Republic Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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