TOP-50 interesting facts about the Maldives and Maldivians
The Maldives is a South Asian island country with many similarities to its neighbouring countries. But at the same time, it is a unique country, with its own customs, history and culture. Here’s a round up of 50 great facts about the country and its people that will help you get a first impression of the country and help you plan your Maldives holiday in a fun way.
50 Most Amusing Facts About Maldivians and the Maldives
So let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
Facts of History
1. The Maldives were first inhabited by people from South India and Ceylon, the Dravidians and the Indo-Aryans. This was shortly before Christ.
2. The first archaeological finds on the islands date back to the 6th century. These are Buddhist stupas and similar structures.
3. The Arab colonization of the Maldives began in the 10th century. A sultanate was established here and Islam was proclaimed as the official religion.
4. The modern language of the islands, Dhivehi, is rooted in Arabic. It is written in Dhivehi, as well as in Arabic, from right to left.
5. In the past, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English fought over the islands. The day of the expulsion of the Portuguese from Male in 1573 is now celebrated as National Day.
6. Until 1965, the Maldives remained a sultanate under British protectorate. In 1965, a republic was established, independence was declared, and the first president was elected.
7. The first president of the Maldives, Ibrahim Nasser, is now named after Male International Airport.
8. The very name of the archipelago comes from two words: mahal, palace, and diva, island.
9. The first island hotel in the archipelago opened in 1972, 3 kilometres from Male. Since then, the tourism boom in the Maldives began.
10. According to local laws, hotel buildings cannot exceed the height of the tallest palm tree on the island.
11. The modern Maldives is a chain of 26 atolls and 1,192 islands extending 750 kilometres, almost exactly 73 degrees East.
12. The closest neighbours are India, 340 kilometres, and Sri Lanka, 700 kilometres. The Seychelles is about 2,200 kilometres away and Mauritius more than 3,000.
13. The Maldives lies on either side of the equator. It crosses the archipelago just north of Fuwamula Island.
14. The capital Male is the only city in the Maldives. It has a population of 133 thousand people.
15. There is only one major international airport in the country, the Nasser airport in Male’. Its terminals receive 2 million tourists every year. About 150 thousand arrive through Gan Airport on Addu Atoll, about the same amount through Hanimadu Airport.
16. Of the 400,000 people who now make up the population of the islands, 330 are Maldivian nationals and the rest are foreigners living permanently in the country.
17. There are hardly any roads in the country, the exceptions being the capital Male’ and the island of Gan. Bicycles are a rarity here. But each citizen has 2–3 motorbikes.
18. One can easily cross any island of the archipelago on foot in 1–2 hours.
19. Between the islands, the locals travel in boats, which are called Doni here.
20. The largest bridge in the country connects the residential areas of Male and the international airport. Its length is 2 km.
21. The sand and the sea are considered the most important attractions of the islands. In the Maldives, the sand is white. And on the island of Vaadhu, the sand also glows at night. This starry glow is caused by the plankton that the waves dump on the shore.
22. Dhadimagi-Kilkhee is a freshwater lake on Fuwamula Atoll. This unique formation for islands covers an area of 6 hectares.
23. Baa Atoll has the world’s only observatory and resort complex. Here you can observe solar system planets and distant galaxies.
24. North Male’ atoll has the world’s only spa. Its uniqueness is that the procedures are carried out at a depth of 8 metres under water.
25. In the capital Male’ there is an indoor ice rink, also unique to this climate and region.
26. The wooden palace of Uthemu Ganduwaru is considered a historical monument. It used to be the residence of the local sultan and now houses a museum.
27. South Ari Atoll is home to the unique underwater restaurant Ithaa. Through its panoramic windows, you can admire stingrays and exotic fish.
28. In the capital Male, tourists are attracted to the colonial-style Presidential Palace. Early last century, it was the residence of the sultan.
Character and customs of Maldivians
29. The Maldives is a Muslim country and there are different religious restrictions, for instance, locals are strictly forbidden to drink alcohol.
30. The locals do not shake hands with words; a handshake is replaced by a simple nod of the head. 31.
31. A favourite slogan of the Maldivians is ‘No news, no shoes’. The locals hardly wear shoes, there are no newspapers and no television.
32. There was a matriarchy on the islands in the past, but now the man is considered as the head of the family. He gets the money and the women do the housework.
33. Fishing has been the main occupation of local men for centuries. They are rarely employed by hotels or to serve tourists. Sri Lankan immigrants do that.
34. The man, as head of the family, has the exclusive right to be the first to sit down at the dinner table.
35. Punishment by caning still exists in the country for extramarital affairs, so lovers prefer short-term marriages. Therefore, the Maldives has the highest divorce rate in the world.
36. Polygamy is common in the country. By law, a Maldivian man can marry up to four women and is required to build a house for each.
37. However, the people of the country are friendly and calm. It is not customary to raise one’s voice, even to children.
38. The Maldivians love dancing and music. Their national instruments are the big drums and onugadu – a piece of bamboo with notches.
39. A favourite dance of the Maldivians is Bodu Beru, brought to the islands by settlers from East Africa.
40. That said, birthdays as a holiday are not popular in the Maldives. The natives often don’t even remember their birthdays.
41. Maldivian cuisine is not original. It is based on rice and seafood. And locals like to dry their fish in the sun before cooking it.
42. Coconut in all its forms is still the islanders’ favourite snack. Dozens of dishes can be made from it.
43. Forbidden for the local women to cover their faces, to wear a veil, and to cover their shoulders and hair.
44. The national symbol of the country is the Dhivehi Libaas, a traditional brightly coloured dress worn by local women. It is usually red with gold and silver threads. It is worn by Maldivians on holidays and festive occasions.
45. All the islands in the archipelago barely rise above sea level. The highest point is on Addu Atoll. It lies 2.4 metres above sea level.
46. The islands lack fertile soil and the only indigenous species is the coconut palm. It has even become the national tree of the Maldives.
47. The pink polyanta rose is considered to be the country’s national flower. It is native to France but has become well established in the Maldives.
48. The symbol of the country is also the white-breasted wolf, a waterfowl, distinguished by its loud and long cry, for which it got its name.
49. A favourite fish of the Maldivians is yellowfin tuna, a beautiful and large fish found in abundance in the local waters. Tuna is a staple of the islands’ fish cuisine.
50. There are practically no animals on the islands, not even dogs; keeping them is forbidden by law for Maldivians.
Friends! If you know any other interesting facts about the Maldives and the Maldivians, please share them in the comments. It is a country full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many would love to learn something new. We would really appreciate it!