Geography[edit]

Malhosmadulhu Atoll seen from space. “Fasdutere” and Southern Maalhosmadulhu Atoll can be seen in this picture.

The Maldives consists of 1,192 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls, along the north-south direction, spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi), making this one of the world’s most dispersed countries. It lies between latitudes 1°S and 8°N, and longitudes 72° and 74°E. The atolls are composed of live coral reefs and sand bars, situated atop a submarine ridge 960 kilometres (600 mi) long that rises abruptly from the depths of the Indian Ocean and runs north to south.

Only near the southern end of this natural coral barricade do two open passages permit safe ship navigation from one side of the Indian Ocean to the other through the territorial waters of Maldives. For administrative purposes the Maldivian government organised these atolls into twenty one administrative divisions. The largest island of Maldives is Gan, which belongs to Laamu Atoll or Hahdhummathi Maldives. In Addu Atoll the westernmost islands are connected by roads over the reef (collectively called Link Road) and the total length of the road is 14 km (9 mi).

Maldives is the lowest country in the world, with maximum and average natural ground levels of only 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) and 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, respectively. In areas where construction exists, however, this has been increased to several metres. More than 80 per cent of the country’s land is composed of coral islands which rise less than one metre above sea level.[53] As a result, the Maldives are at high risk of being submerged due to rising sea levels. The UN’s environmental panel has warned that, at current rates, sea level rise would be high enough to make the Maldives uninhabitable by 2100.[54][55]

Protected areas of Maldives[edit]

Protected areas of Maldives are administrated by Ministry of Environment and Energy and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Maldives. There are 31 protected areas in Maldives.[56]

Climate[edit]

Sunset in the Maldives

The Maldives has a tropical monsoon climate (Am) under the Köppen climate classification, which is affected by the large landmass of South Asia to the north. The presence of this landmass causes differential heating of land and water. These factors set off a rush of moisture-rich air from the Indian Ocean over South Asia, resulting in the southwest monsoon. Two seasons dominate Maldives’ weather: the dry season associated with the winter northeastern monsoon and the rainy season which brings strong winds and storms.

The shift from the dry northeast monsoon to the moist southwest monsoon occurs during April and May. During this period, the southwest winds contribute to the formation of the southwest monsoon, which reaches Maldives in the beginning of June and lasts until the end of August. However, the weather patterns of Maldives do not always conform to the monsoon patterns of South Asia. The annual rainfall averages 254 centimetres (100 in) in the north and 381 centimetres (150 in) in the south.[57]

The monsoonal influence is greater in the north of the Maldives than in the south, more influenced by the equatorial currents.

[hide]Climate data for Malé (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 30.3
(86.5)
30.7
(87.3)
31.4
(88.5)
31.6
(88.9)
31.2
(88.2)
30.6
(87.1)
30.5
(86.9)
30.4
(86.7)
30.2
(86.4)
30.2
(86.4)
30.1
(86.2)
30.1
(86.2)
30.61
(87.11)
Daily mean °C (°F) 28.0
(82.4)
28.3
(82.9)
28.9
(84)
29.2
(84.6)
28.8
(83.8)
28.3
(82.9)
28.2
(82.8)
28.0
(82.4)
27.8
(82)
27.8
(82)
27.7
(81.9)
27.8
(82)
28.2
(82.8)
Average low °C (°F) 25.7
(78.3)
25.9
(78.6)
26.4
(79.5)
26.8
(80.2)
26.3
(79.3)
26.0
(78.8)
25.8
(78.4)
25.5
(77.9)
25.3
(77.5)
25.4
(77.7)
25.2
(77.4)
25.4
(77.7)
25.8
(78.4)
Average rainfall mm (inches) 114.2
(4.496)
38.1
(1.5)
73.9
(2.909)
122.5
(4.823)
218.9
(8.618)
167.3
(6.587)
149.9
(5.902)
175.5
(6.909)
199.0
(7.835)
194.2
(7.646)
231.1
(9.098)
216.8
(8.535)
1,901.4
(74.858)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 6 3 5 9 15 13 12 13 15 15 13 12 131
Average relative humidity (%) 78.0 77.0 76.9 78.1 80.8 80.7 79.1 80.5 81.0 81.7 82.2 80.9 79.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 248.4 257.8 279.6 246.8 223.2 202.3 226.6 211.5 200.4 234.8 226.1 220.7 2,778.2
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization[58]
Source #2: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)[59]

Environmental issues[edit]

The white sandy beaches of Maldives

According to former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives are ranked the third most endangered nation due to flooding from climate change.[60]In March and April 2012, Nasheed stated, “If carbon emissions were to stop today, the planet would not see a difference for 60 to 70 years.” “If carbon emissions continue at the rate they are climbing today, my country will be under water in seven years.” He called for more climate change mitigation action while on the American television shows The Daily Show[61] and the Late Show with David Letterman.[62]

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s 2007 report predicted the upper limit of the sea level rises will be 59 centimetres (23 in) by 2100, which means that most of the republic’s 200 inhabited islands may need to be abandoned.[63] One study appears to show that the sea level in the Maldives dropped 20–30 centimetres (8–12 in) throughout the 1970s and ’80s, although later studies failed to back this up.[64] The observed rate of sea level rise is only 1.7–1.8 millimetres per year.[65]

In November 2008, President Mohamed Nasheed announced plans to look into purchasing new land in India, Sri Lanka, and Australia because of his concerns about global warming, and the possibility of much of the islands being inundated with water from rising sea levels. The purchase of land will be made from a fund generated by tourism.[66] The President has explained his intentions: “We do not want to leave the Maldives, but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades”.[67] On 22 April 2008, then President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom pleaded for a cut in global greenhouse gas emissions, warning that rising sea levels could submerge the island nation of Maldives.[68][69]

By 2020, Maldives plans to eliminate or offset all of its greenhouse gas emissions. At the 2009 International Climate Talks, President Mohamed Nasheed explained that:

For us swearing off fossil fuels is not only the right thing to do, it is in our economic self-interest… Pioneering countries will free themselves from the unpredictable price of foreign oil; they will capitalise on the new green economy of the future, and they will enhance their moral standing giving them greater political influence on the world stage.[70]

Other environmental issues include bad waste disposal and beach theft. Although the Maldives are kept relatively pristine and little litter can be found on the islands, no good waste disposal sites exist. Most trash from Male and other resorts is simply dumped at Thilafushi.[71]

Marine ecosystem[edit]

Oriental Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus vittatus) at Meeru Island, North Male Atoll

Maldives soft coral

Maldivian waters are home to several ecosystems, including a variety, 187 species, of vibrant coral reefs. This area of the Indian Ocean, alone, houses 1100 species of fish, 5 species of sea turtles, 21 species of whales and dolphins, 400 species of molluscs, and 83 species of echinoderms. The area is also populated by a number of crustacean species: 120 copepod, 15 amphipod, as well as more than 145 crab and 48 shrimp species.[72]

Among the many marine families represented are PufferfishFusiliersJackfishLionfishOriental Sweetlipsreef sharksGroupersEelsSnappersBannerfishBatfishHumphead WrasseSpotted Eagle RaysScorpionfishLobstersNudibranchesAngelfishButterflyfishSquirrelfishSoldierfishGlassfishSurgeonfishUnicornfishTriggerfishNapoleon wrasses, and Barracudas.[73][74]

These coral reefs are home to a variety of marine ecosystems that vary from planktonic organisms to whale sharks. Sponges have gained importance as five species have displayed anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties.[75]

In 1998, sea-temperature warming of as much as 5 °C (9.0 °F) due to a single El Niño phenomenon event caused coral bleaching, killing two thirds of the nation’s coral reefs.[76]

In an effort to induce the regrowth of the reefs, scientists placed electrified cones anywhere from 20–60 feet (6.1–18.3 m) below the surface to provide a substrate for larval coral attachment. In 2004, scientists witnessed corals regenerating. Corals began to eject pink-orange eggs and sperm. The growth of these electrified corals was five times faster than untreated corals.[76] Scientist Azeez Hakim stated:

before 1998, we never thought that this reef would die. We had always taken for granted that these animals would be there, that this reef would be there forever. El Niño gave us a wake-up call that these things are not going to be there for ever. Not only this, they also act as a natural barrier against the tropical storms, floods and tsunamis. Seaweeds grow on the skeletons of dead coral.[73]

Again, in 2016, the coral reefs of the Maldives experienced a severe bleaching incident. Over 95% of coral around the islands died, and, even after six months, 100% of young coral transplants had died. The surface water temperatures reached an all-time high in 2016, at 31 degrees Celsius in May.[77]

Recent scientific studies suggest that the faunistic composition can vary greatly between neighbour atolls, especially in terms of benthic fauna. Differences in terms of fishing pressure (including poaching) could be the cause.[78]

Government[edit]

Independence Square in Malé

Maldives is a presidential republic, with the President as head of governmentand head of state. The President heads the executive branch and appoints the cabinet which is approved by the People’s Majlis (Parliament). Following the introduction of a new constitution in 2008, direct elections for the President take place every five years, with a limit of two terms in office for any individual. The current President is Abdulla Yameen.[79] Members of the unicameral Majlis serve five-year terms, with the total number of members determined by atoll populations. At the 2009 election, 77 members were elected. The People’s Majlis, located in Male, houses members from all over the country.[3]

The republican constitution came into force in 1968, and was amended in 1970, 1972, and 1975. On 27 November 1997 it was replaced by another Constitution assented to by the President Gayoom. This Constitution came into force on 1 January 1998. All stated that the president was the Head of State, Head of Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Police of the Maldives. A third Constitution was ratified in 2008, which separated the judiciaryfrom the head of state.

Law[edit]

According to the Constitution of Maldives, “the judges are independent, and subject only to the Constitution and the law. When deciding matters on which the Constitution or the law is silent, judges must consider Islamic Shari’ah“. Article 15 of the Act Number 1/81 (Penal Code) gives provision for hudud punishments.[80] Article 156 of the constitution states that law includes the norms and provisions of sharia.[81]

Islam is the official religion of the Maldives and open practice of any other religion is forbidden and liable to prosecution. Article 2 of the revised constitution says that the republic “is based on the principles of Islam”. Article nine says that “a non-Muslim may not become a citizen”; article ten says that “no law contrary to any principle of Islam can be applied”. Article nineteen states that “citizens are free to participate in or carry out any activity that is not expressly prohibited by sharia [Islamic law] or by the law”.

The requirement to adhere to a particular religion and prohibition of public worship following other religions is contrary to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Maldives has recently become party[82] and was addressed in Maldives’ reservation in adhering to the Covenant claiming that “The application of the principles set out in Article 18 of the Covenant shall be without prejudice to the Constitution of the Republic of the Maldives.”[83]

Human rights[edit]

Human rights in the Maldives is a contentious issue. In its 2011 Freedom in the World report, Freedom House declared the Maldives “Partly Free”, claiming a reform process which had made headway in 2009 and 2010 had stalled.[84] The United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor claims in their 2012 report on human rights practices in the country that the most significant problems are corruption, lack of religious freedom, and abuse and unequal treatment of women.[85] In February 2013, the court sentenced a 15-year-old rape victim to 100 lashes and 8 months of house arrest for having had extra-marital relations. The conviction was based on the confession of the girl shortly after being raped by her stepfather[86] Same-sex relations are illegal in the Maldives.[87]

Foreign relations[edit]

Former Maldivian Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim at an Indian naval base in Kochi.

Since 1996, the Maldives has been the official progress monitor of the Indian Ocean Commission. In 2002, the Maldives began to express interest in the commission but as of 2008 had not applied for membership. Maldive’s interest relates to its identity as a small island state, especially economic development and environmental preservation, and its desire for closer relations with France, a main actor in the IOC region.

The Maldives is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, SAARC. The republic joined the Commonwealth in 1982, some 17 years after gaining independence from the United Kingdom. In October 2016, Maldives announced its withdrawal from the Commonwealth[88] in protest at allegations of human rights abuse and failing democracy.[89] The Maldives enjoys close ties with Commonwealth members Seychelles and Mauritius. The Maldives and Comoros are also both members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Military[edit]

Fire & Rescue Service boats.

The Maldives National Defence Force is the combined security organisation responsible for defending the security and sovereignty of the Maldives, having the primary task of being responsible for attending to all internal and external security needs of the Maldives, including the protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the maintenance of peace and security. The MNDF component branches are the Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Special Forces, Service Corps and the Corps of Engineers.

As a water-bound nation much of the security concerns lie at sea. Almost 99% of the country is covered by sea and the remaining 1% land is scattered over an area of 800 km (497 mi) × 120 km (75 mi), with the largest island being not more than 8 km2 (3 sq mi). Therefore, the duties assigned to the MNDF of maintaining surveillance over Maldives’ waters and providing protection against foreign intruders poaching in the EEZ and territorial waters, are immense tasks from both logistical and economic view points.

The Coast Guard plays a vital role in carrying out these functions. To provide timely security its patrol boats are stationed at various MNDF Regional Headquarters. The Coast Guard is also assigned to respond to the maritime distress calls and to conduct search and rescue operations in a timely manner. Maritime pollution control exercises are conducted regularly on an annual basis for familiarisation and handling of such hazardous situations.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Each administrative atoll is marked, along with the thaana letter used to identify the atoll. Natural atolls are labelled in light blue. Full view of the map.

The Maldives has twenty-six natural atolls and few island groups on isolated reefs, all of which have been divided into twenty-one administrative divisions (twenty administrative atolls and Malé city).[90]

Each atoll is administered by an elected Atoll Council. The islands are administered by an elected Island Council.

Between 2008 and 2010 the Maldives had 7 provinces each consisting of the following administrative divisions (the capital Malé is its own administrative division):

  1. Mathi-Uthuru Province; consists of Haa Alif AtollHaa Dhaalu Atoll and Shaviyani Atoll.
  2. Uthuru Province; consists of Noonu AtollRaa AtollBaa Atoll and Lhaviyani Atoll.
  3. Medhu-Uthuru Province; consists of Kaafu AtollAlifu Alifu AtollAlifu Dhaalu Atoll and Vaavu Atoll.
  4. Medhu Province; consists of Meemu AtollFaafu Atoll and Dhaalu Atoll.
  5. Medhu-Dhekunu Province; consists of Thaa Atoll and Laamu Atoll.
  6. Mathi-Dhekunu Province; consists of Gaafu Alifu Atoll and Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.
  7. Dhekunu Province; consists of Gnaviyani Atoll and Addu City.

In addition to a name, every administrative division is identified by the Maldivian code letters, such as “Haa Alif” for Thiladhunmati Uthuruburi (Thiladhunmathi North); and by a Latin code letter. The first corresponds to the geographical Maldivian name of the atoll; the second is a code adopted for convenience. As there are certain islands in different atolls that have the same name, for administrative purposes this code is quoted before the name of the island, for example: Baa Funadhoo, Kaafu Funadhoo, Gaafu-Alifu Funadhoo. Since most Atolls have very long geographical names it is also used whenever the long name is inconvenient, for example in the atoll website names.[91]

The introduction of code-letter names has been a source of much puzzlement and misunderstandings, especially among foreigners. Many people have come to think that the code-letter of the administrative atoll is its new name and that it has replaced its geographical name. Under such circumstances it is hard to know which is the correct name to use.[91]

Economy[edit]

Malé harbour

Graphical depiction of Maldives’s product exports in 28 color-coded categories.

In ancient times the Maldives were renowned for cowry shellscoir rope, dried tuna fish (Maldive Fish), ambergris(Maavaharu), and coco de mer(Tavakkaashi). Local and foreign trading ships used to load these products in Sri Lanka and transport them to other harbours in the Indian Ocean.

Historically Maldives provided enormous quantities of cowry shells, an international currency of the early ages. From the 2nd century AD the islands were known as the ‘Money Isles’ by the Arabs.[92] Monetaria moneta were used for centuries as a currency in Africa, and huge amounts of Maldivian cowries were introduced into Africa by western nations during the period of slave trade.[93] The cowry is now the symbol of the Maldives Monetary Authority.

The Maldivian government began an economic reform programme in 1989, initially by lifting import quotas and opening some exports to the private sector. Subsequently, it has liberalised regulations to allow more foreign investment. Real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year for more than a decade. Today, the Maldives’ largest industry is tourism, accounting for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives’ foreign exchange receipts. Fishing is the second leading sector.

The Maldivian economy is to a large degree based on tourism. In late December 2004, the major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $400 million. As a result of the tsunami, the GDP contracted by about 3.6% in 2005. A rebound in tourism, post-tsunami reconstruction, and development of new resorts helped the economy recover quickly and showed an 18% increase on 2006. 2013 estimates show Maldivians enjoy the highest GDP (PPP) per capita $11,900 (2013 est) among south Asian countries.

Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play a lesser role in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labour. Tourism gave a major boost to the country’s fledgling traditional cottage industries such as mat weaving, lacquer work, handicraft, and coir rope making. New industries that have since emerged include printing, production of PVC pipes, brick making, marine engine repairs, bottling of aerated water, and garment production.

Tourism[edit]

Filitheyo island beach with tall palm trees and blue lagoons

The Maldives remained largely unknown to tourists until the early 1970s. Only 185 islands are home to its 300,000 inhabitants. The other islands are used entirely for economic purposes, of which tourism and agriculture are the most dominant. Tourism accounts for 28% of the GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives’ foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes.

The development of tourism fostered the overall growth of the country’s economy. It created direct and indirect employment and income generation opportunities in other related industries. The first tourist resorts were opened in 1972 with Bandos island resort and Kurumba Village (the current name is Kurumba Maldives),[94] which transformed the Maldives economy.

The resort island of Landaa Giraavaru (Baa atoll)

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the emergence of tourism in 1972 transformed the economy, moving rapidly from dependence on fisheries to tourism. In just three and a half decades, the industry became the main source of income. Tourism was also the country’s biggest foreign currency earner and the single largest contributor to the GDP. As of 2008, 89 resorts in the Maldives offered over 17,000 beds and hosted over 600,000 tourists annually.[95]

The number of resorts increased from 2 to 92 between 1972 and 2007. As of 2007, over 8,380,000 tourists had visited Maldives.[96]

Visitors to the Maldives do not need to apply for a visa pre-arrival, regardless of their country of origin, provided they have a valid passport, proof of onward travel, and the money to be self-sufficient while in the country.[97]

Most visitors arrive at Malé International Airport, on Hulhulé Island, adjacent to the capital Malé. The airport is served by flights to and from India, Sri Lanka, DohaDubai, Singapore, Istanbul, and major airports in South-East Asia, as well as charters from Europe. Gan Airport, on the southern atoll of Addu, also serves an international flight to Milan several times a week. British Airways offers direct flights to the Maldives around 2–3 times per week.

Fishing industry[edit]

A mechanised traditional inter-island dhoni stripped of its sails

For many centuries the Maldivian economy was entirely dependent on fishing and other marine products. Fishing remains the main occupation of the people and the government gives priority to the fisheries sector.

The mechanisation of the traditional fishing boat called dhoni in 1974 was a major milestone in the development of the fisheries industry. A fish canning plant was installed on Felivaru in 1977, as a joint venture with a Japanese firm. In 1979, a Fisheries Advisory Board was set up with the mandate of advising the government on policy guidelines for the overall development of the fisheries sector. Manpower development programmes began in the early 1980s, and fisheries education was incorporated into the school curriculum. Fish aggregating devices and navigational aids were located at various strategic points. Moreover, the opening up of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Maldives for fisheries has further enhanced the growth of the fisheries sector.

As of 2010, fisheries contributed over 15% of the country’s GDP and engaged about 30% of the country’s work force. Fisheries were also the second-largest foreign exchange earner after tourism.

Demographics[edit]

Malé, the capital of the Maldives

Demographics of the Maldives, from 2000 to 2012

The largest ethnic group are Dhivehis, native to the historic region of the Maldive Islands comprising today’s Republic of Maldives and the island of Minicoy in Union territory of LakshadweepIndia. They share the same culture and speak the Dhivehi language. They are principally an Indo-Aryan people, closely related to the Sinhalese having traces of Middle EasternSouth AsianAustronesian and African genes in the population.

In the past there was also a small Tamil population known as the Giraavaru people. This group have now been almost completely absorbed into the larger Maldivian society but were once native to the island of Giraavaru (Kaafu Atoll). This island was evacuated in 1968 due to heavy erosion of the island.

Some social stratification exists on the islands. It is not rigid, since rank is based on varied factors, including occupation, wealth, Islamic virtue, and family ties. Instead of a complex caste system, there was merely a distinction between noble (bēfulhu) and common people in the Maldives. Members of the social elite are concentrated in Malé.

The population doubled by 1978, and the population growth rate peaked at 3.4% in 1985. At the 2006 census, the population had reached 298,968,[98] although the census in 2000 showed that the population growth rate had declined to 1.9%. Life expectancy at birth stood at 46 years in 1978, and later rose to 72. Infant mortality has declined from 12.7% in 1977 to 1.2% today, and adult literacy reached 99%. Combined school enrolment reached the high 90s. The population was projected to have reached 317,280 in 2010.[99]

As of April 2008, more than 70,000 foreign employees, along with 33,000 illegal immigrants, comprised more than one third of the Maldivian population.[citation needed]. There are 40,000 Bangladeshis in the Maldives, making them the largest group of foreigners working in that country.[100] Other immigrants include Filipinos in the Maldives as well as various Western expatriates.

Religion[edit]

Maldives religions (2010)[101]
Islam
98.4%
other
1.6%

Mosque in Hulhumalé

After the long Buddhist[102] period of Maldivian history, Muslim traders introduced Sunni Islam. Maldivians converted to Islam by the mid-12th century. The islands have had a long history of Sufic orders, as can be seen in the history of the country such as the building of tombs. They were used until as recently as the 1980s for seeking the help of buried saints. They can be seen today next to some old mosques and are considered today as cultural heritage.

Other aspects of tassawuf, such as ritualised dhikr ceremonies called Maulūdu (Mawlid)—the liturgy of which included recitations and certain supplications in a melodical tone—existed until very recent times. These Maulūdu festivals were held in ornate tents specially built for the occasion. At present Islam is the official religion of the entire population, as adherence to it is required for citizenship.

According to Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta, the person responsible for this conversion was a Sunni Muslim visitor named Abu al-Barakat, sailing from Morocco. He is also referred to as Tabrizugefaanu. His venerated tomb now stands on the grounds of the Friday Mosque, or Hukuru Miskiy, in Malé. Built in 1656, this is the country’s oldest mosque.

Languages[edit]

Thaana script

The official and common language is Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan language having some similarities with Elu, the ancient Sinhalese language. The first known script used to write Dhivehi is Eveyla akuru script which is found in historical recording of kings (raadhavalhi). Later a script called Dhives akuru was used for a long period. The present-day script is called Thaana and is written from right to left. Thaana is said to have been introduced by the reign of Mohamed Thakurufaanu.

English is widely spoken by the locals of Maldives.[103]

Population by locality[edit]

Culture[edit]

File:Electric bulbul.ogv

Electric bulbul tarang playing

Since the 12th century AD there were also influences from Arabia in the language and culture of the Maldives because of the conversion to Islam and its location as a crossroads in the central Indian Ocean. This was due to the long trading history between the far east and the middle east. Somali travellers discovered the island for gold in the 13th century, before the Portuguese. Their brief stay later ended in a bloody conflict known by the Somalis as “Dagaal Diig Badaaney” in 1424.

However, unlike the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka and most of the Arabs, Africans and Europeans whose influence can be seen in borrow-words, material culture, and the diversity of Maldivian phenotype, Maldivians do not have the highly embedded patriarchal codes of honour, purity, corporate marriage, and sedentary private property that are typical of places where agriculture is the key form of subsistence and social relations have been built, historically, around tribute taking.[citation needed]

Reflective of this is the fact that the Maldives has had the highest national divorce rate in the world for many decades. This, it is hypothesised, is due to a combination of liberal Islamic rules about divorce and the relatively loose marital bonds that have been identified as common in non- and semi-sedentary peoples without a history of fully developed agrarian property and kinship relations.[104]

Transportation[edit]

TMA Terminal

Velana International Airport is the principal gateway to the Maldives. International travel is available on a number of major airlines. Two Maldives based airlines also operate international flights. Privately owned MEGA Maldives Airlines has Boeing 737 and 767 aircraft and operates frequent services to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Government owned Island Aviation Services(branded as Maldivian) operates to nearly all of Maldives domestic airports with several Dash-8 aircraft and one A320 with international service to Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In Maldives there are three main ways to move around: by domestic flight, by seaplane or by boat.[105] For several years there were two seaplanes companies operating: TMA, Trans Maldivian Airways, and Maldivian Air Taxi, but these merged in 2013 under the name TMA. The seaplane fleet is entirely made up of DHC-6 Twin Otters. There is also another airline, flyMe, which operates using ATRs to domestic airports, principally Maamagili and some others. The typical Maldivian boat is called dhoni. Depending on the distance of the destination island to the airport, resorts organise domestic flight plus boat transfers, seaplane flights directly to the resort island jetty, or speedboat trips for their guests. There are also locally run ferries by large dhoni boats. Speedboats and seaplanes tend to be more expensive, while travel by dhoni, although longer, is relatively cheaper and convenient.

Education[edit]

The Maldives National University is one of the country’s three institutions of higher education. Its mission statement is as follows:

To create, discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge that are necessary to enhance the lives and livelihoods of people and essential for the cultural, social and economic development of the society so that this nation shall remain free and Islamic forever.[106]

In 1973, the Allied Health Services Training Centre (the forerunner of the Faculty of Health Sciences) was established by the Ministry of Health. The Vocational Training Centre was established in 1974, providing training for mechanical and electrical trades. In 1984, the Institute for Teacher Education was created and the School of Hotel and Catering Services was established in 1987 to provide trained personnel for the tourist industry. In 1991, the Institute of Management and Administration was created to train staff for public and private services. In 1998, the Maldives College of Higher Education was founded. The Institute of Shar’ah and Law was founded in January 1999. In 2000 the college launched its first degree programme: Bachelor of Arts. On 17 January 2011 the Maldives National University Act was passed by the President of the Maldives; The Maldives National University was named on 15 February 2011.[107]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Divehiraajjege Jōgrafīge Vanavaru. Muhammadu Ibrahim Lutfee. G.Sōsanī. Malé 1999.
  • H. C. P. BellThe Maldive Islands, An account of the Physical Features, History, Inhabitants, Productions and Trade. Colombo 1883, ISBN 81-206-1222-1.
  • H.C.P. Bell, The Maldive Islands; Monograph on the History, Archaeology and Epigraphy. Reprint Colombo 1940. Council for Linguistic and Historical Research. Malé 1989.
  • H.C.P. Bell, Excerpta Maldiviana. Reprint Colombo 1922/35 edn. Asian Educational Services. New Delhi 1999.
  • Divehi Tārīkhah Au Alikameh. Divehi Bahāi Tārikhah Khidmaiykurā Qaumī Markazu. Reprint 1958 edn. Malé, Maldives 1990.
  • Christopher, William (1836–38). Transactions of the Bombay Geographical Society, Vol. I. Bombay.
  • Lieut. I.A. Young & W. Christopher, Memoirs on the Inhabitants of the Maldive Islands.
  • Geiger, WilhelmMaldivian Linguistic Studies. Reprint 1919 edn. Asian Educational Services. Delhi 1999.
  • Hockly, T.W. The Two Thousand Isles. Reprint 1835 edn. Asian Educational Services. Delhi 2003.
  • Hideyuki Takahashi, Maldivian National Security –And the Threats of Mercenaries, The Round Table (London), No. 351, July 1999, pp. 433–444.
  • Malten, Thomas: Malediven und Lakkadiven. Materialien zur Bibliographie der Atolle im Indischen Ozean. Beiträge zur Südasien-Forschung Südasien-Institut Universität Heidelberg, Nr. 87. Franz Steiner Verlag. Wiesbaden, 1983.
  • Vilgon, Lars: Maldive and Minicoy Islands Bibliography with the Laccadive Islands. Published by the author. Stockholm, 1994.
  • Clarence MaloneyPeople of the Maldive Islands, Orient Black Swan, 2013
  • Xavier Romero-FriasThe Maldive Islanders : a study of the popular culture of an ancient ocean kingdom, NEI, 1999
  • Xavier Romero-Frias, Folk Tales of the Maldives, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2012
  • Djan Sauerborn, The Perils of Rising Fundamentalism in the Maldives, International Relations and Security Network (ISN), Zürich, September 2013
  • Djan Sauerborn, Failing to Transition: Democratization under Stress in the Maldives, South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF), February 2015

External links[edit]

Coordinates3.20°N 73.22°E