Over the centuries the sea and religion molded the personality of Maldivians into devout islanders with a rugged self-assurance and the ability to survive on limited resources.
Before tourism, people depended on fishing, not just for food but also for revenue and trade, with the export of fish, in sun-dried and smoked form, to Ceylon.
Over the centuries Maldivians were exposed to different genetically and cultural influences. Traces of Africa, Arabia, Indonesia and India are to be seen in the features of the people and in the culture, especially in the traditional drumming dance of Bodu Beru (sometimes performed at resorts) with its echoes of Africa.
The religious discipline of Islam has added a respect for routine, custom and a trust
With the opportunities afforded by better income through tourism and access to modern communications, Maldivians have embraced the chance of higher education overseas to contribute to the welfare of the country.
The 2008 constitution inspired political participation by ordinary Maldivians and has resulted in people taking a keen interest in government and world affairs.
Prosperity triggered by tourism has changed the simple lifestyle of Maldivians with coral stone cottages being replaced by air-conditioned ten-storied apartment blocks, elegantly designed by Maldivian architects.
The corner teashops, where Maldivians pop in for tea and hedhikaa (snacks of pastry stuffed with spicy fish-filling), are being replaced by coffee houses serving fast food.
Things To Do in Maldives
Contrary to expectations, there is so much to do while staying in the Maldives; you’ll wish you could stay longer!
On a resort there are lots of lagoon based activities, from snorkeling and scuba diving to deep sea fishing or, for the less energetic, hook and line fishing from the side of a dhoni and having the resort prepare your catch for dinner.
There are facilities for windsurfing, para-gliding, water-skiing, kayaking, paddle boarding and, for enthusiasts, some enticing surfing.
Resorts arrange gentle dhoni cruises to spot dolphins leaping and visits to local islands
to see the traditional Maldivian way of life or to picnic on a sandbank. There are spas
where trained therapists offer a variety of treatments including Ayurveda, a natural herbal system of wellness, and Yoga.
For exercise, most resorts have a gymnasium and walking around the island is a fine way of learning about the tropical flora and fauna.
Some resorts organize lessons in cookery or wine tasting or feature talks on the environment, while others have displays of local handicrafts or a mini-museum of ancient maps and artifacts.
A visit to Male’ is a chance for shopping and exploration, or to go underwater in the Whale Submarine or take to the air on a chartered photo-flight by seaplane. There are sports such as beach volleyball and futsal to play, and many resorts have billiards and table tennis, as well as indoor games.
Satellite television keeps guests in touch with the world, and resorts have WiFi access as well as libraries of movies, magazines and books.
Male’, The Capital City of Maldives
The capital of the Maldives is Male’, now proudly designated Male’ City due to its large population. All visitors from the airport or the islands arrive at the island’s northern waterfront where the majestic sight of three imitation sails roofing the main Izzuddeen jetty sets the tone of modern architecture.
Tall buildings along the waterfront represent various building styles, from neo-colonial
and modern art deco to futuristic towers reflecting marine heritage.
Behind the facade of bright new buildings, visitors taking a stroll around Male’ will discover the heart and soul of the Maldives. Jumhooree Maidan, the public square where a gigantic pole flies the Maldivian flag, is a pleasant place to sit and watch the
To the west on the way to the quay where inter-island vessels dock, are markets to buy fresh fish, vegetables and the local specialty, sun-dried or smoked fish.
A street leading inland passes the Islamic Center with its golden dome and the modern National Museum (an essential stop as it also features a philatelic corner and an intriguing police museum). Chandhanee Magu is lined with souvenir shops catering especially for tourists.
Further eastwards the road passes Muleee-age, the official residence of the President with its colonial fretwork friezes, the ancient Friday mosque and the charming minaret known as Munnaaru (built in 1674).
The blue and white shrine, Medu Ziyaarath is a memorial to Abu Barakaath who introduced Islam to the Maldives. The People’s Majlis, the Parliament Building, is nearby.
At the north-east corner of the waterfront ferries leave for the airport and to Hulhumale’. To visit Hulhumale’ is to see how Maldivians are coping with the future. This residentialisland has been created on reclaimed land to house the burgeoning population of Male’.
Buses provide transport around the island with its broad streets and parks, and LiveAboard safari boats are anchored in the harbor. There is a road link to the airport, while a bridge is being built to link the island with the south-east corner of Male’.
A new beach, Rasfannu, has been created on the western shore of Male’ with an open-air roadside gymnasium complete with exercise machines. Close to the Southern Harbour, usually crammed full with vessels unloading cargo into waiting vehicles, is the Vilingili Ferry Terminal.
Vilingili was one of the first resorts in the Maldives until it was taken over as a residential island. It is a pleasant island to visit to escape the hubbub of Male’ City as its byways are green and shaded and undisturbed by motor vehicles.
Getting to Maldives
There are flights to the Maldives direct from Europe as well as via the Middle East and from the main Asian airports with connections from the USA or Australia. Some airlines only operate seasonal charters and some have a code sharing arrangement with other carriers.
There are scheduled non-stop flights from Colombo to Velana, the new name for the Maldives international airport, as well as to the international airport at Gan in the southern atoll of Addu.
Getting around Maldives
There are ferries running regularly between the airport and Male’ at a cost of US$1 per passenger. Other ferries operate on a daily basis from Male’ in the afternoons to nearby islands, returning to Male’ in the mornings.
There are separate ferries on a regular basis operating from ferry terminals on Male’ to Hulhumale’ and Vilingilli. Taxis can be hired to get around Male’ and a bus service operates in Hulhumale’.
Resort representatives meet guests on arrival at Velana (formerly Ibrahim Nasir) International Airport and escort them to the jetty or domestic airport for transfer to their resort.
Domestic air carriers are Maldivian (Island Aviation) and Flyme, with Trans Maldivian
operating seaplanes. Guests are met on arrival at every domestic airport for transfer by speedboat to their resort or guesthouse.
Domestic Airports in Maldives
- Dharavandhoo, Baa Atoll
- Fuvahmulah, Gnaviyani Atoll
- Gan, Addu City, Addu Atoll (with facilities for international flights)
- Hanimaadhoo, Haa Dhaalu Atoll (with facilities for international flights)
- Ifuru, Raa Atoll
- Kaadedhdhoo, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll
- Kadhdhoo, Laamu Atoll
- Kooddoo, Gaafu Alifu Atoll
- Maamigili, Alifu Dhaalu Atoll (with facilities for international flights)
- Thimarafushi, Thaa Atoll
History of Maldives
Positioned at a crossroads in the Indian Ocean, the Maldivian islands originally attracted seafarers, merchants and settlers from neighboring countries who appreciated the calm waters of the lagoons and the bounty of coconuts and fish.
Whether people were marooned there by shipwreck or arrived as exiles from places such as India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Africa and even Greece and the Roman
Empire, the struggle for survival left little time for disputes so gradually an adhoc nation of islanders came into being.
Evidence suggests the islands were inhabited over 3,500 years ago with Aryan immigrants starting settlements around 500BC. Historic remains indicate that Buddhists and Hindus brought their own beliefs and, logically, Arab settlers would have brought Islam with them.
However, Islam did not become the official religion of Maldives until 1153 while conversion of all the islanders took a further 60 years, uniting the settlers of the atolls into a nation ruled by a Sultan, and sometimes a Sultana. The post was never hereditary and the ruling council, which included women, selected the sultan.
Various dynasties ruled the Maldives without attracting much attention from the rest of the world, surviving through fishing and trading including the export of cowrie shells which became a currency accepted worldwide and earning the Maldives the nickname of Money Islands.
Peace was shattered with the arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean
and they eventually invaded the islands in 1558.
Their occupation lasted 15 years until they were ousted by Mohamed Thakurufaanu, a resident of Utheemu, who led a band of Maldivians in seaborne guerrilla warfare against the Portuguese and thwarted their attempts to convert the islanders to Christianity.
Invasions from India followed in the 17th century but these were resisted with Sultan Ibrahim Iskandhar even invading territory of the Rajah of Cannanore and taking hostages, which put an end to Indian interest in the islands for 40 years.
There was a brief occupation by Malabars in the 18th century. The Dutch, who were interested in trade through their base in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) surveyed the islands in 1671 but did not stay.
The French (who had a fort in Pondicherry) were allowed to station forces in Male’ for a short time to protect the islands from Indian attacks.
By the beginning of the 19th century, British power was predominant in the Indian Ocean. To keep the British at bay, in 1887 Sultan Mohamed Mueenuddeen II exchanged letters with the Governor of Ceylon, representing Queen Victoria, enabling the Maldives to enjoy the status of a protected state, although not actually becoming an occupied British Protectorate.
The Sultanate became a Republic in 1953 with Mohamed Ameen Didi (formerly Prime Minister) as President for a few months before the Sultanate was restored.
The Maldives became independent in 1965. Three years later the Sultanate was abolished again and Ibrahim Nasir was elected President.
Timeline of Maldives
- 500 BC: Permanent settlements by Aryan immigrants
- 2nd Century: Ptolemy mentions the Maldives in his Geography
- 362: Delegation from Maldives to Roman Emperor Julian
- 662: Gifts to Chinese Emperor from the King of Maldives
- 1153: Islam officially declared the religion of the Maldives
- 1342: Ibn Battuta, the Moroccan traveller, visits for one year
- 1498: Vasco da Gama of Portugal arrives in India
- 1503: Portuguese burn 100 people including Maldivians to death
- 1558: Successful invasion of the islands by the Portuguese
- 1573: Ousting of the Portuguese by Mohamed Thakurufaanu
- 1609: Attempted invasion by Malabars from India
- 1650: Maldivians invade territory of Rajah of Cannanore
- 1671: Islands surveyed by the Dutch
- 1690: Unsuccessful invasion attempt by Malabars
- 1752: Invasion by Malabars lasts for four months
- 1834: Islands surveyed by the British
- 1887: British protection arranged by exchange of letters
- 1932: First constitution introduced
- 1953: Sultanate abolished in favour of a Republic
- 1954: Republic reverts to being a Sultanate
- 1965: Independence from Britain
- 1965: Maldives becomes a member of the United Nations
- 1968: Sultanate abolished and Second Republic created
- 1968: Ibrahim Nasir elected President
- 1972: First two resorts open, officially beginning the tourist industry
- 1978: Maumoon Abdul Gayoom elected President
- 1982: Maldives becomes a member of the Commonwealth
- 1988: Invasion by Tamil mercenaries repelled
- 2004: Tsunami waves sweep over Maldives
- 2008: Mohamed Nasheed elected President
- 2012: Mohamed Nasheed resigns
- 2013: Abdulla Yameen elected President
Tourism History of Maldives
Tourism, an expert from the UNDP reported to the government prior to 1971, will never succeed in the Maldives because there are no facilities, no infrastructure.
No one told that to three young men who, by chance, became the pioneers of the country’s tourism industry.
One of them, Ahmed Naseem, a young diplomat attached to the Maldives Embassy in Colombo met in 1971 an Italian travel agent who was looking for virgin islands where he and his friends could swim and spear fish.
Naseem traveled with him to the Maldives by cargo ship and introduced him to M U Maniku, then in the government’s agricultural department, and ‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef, who was working in the UN office in Male’.
The Italian told them he would bring groups to the Maldives in 1972, if they could provide accommodation. Pooling their resources they hosted the first group in their own homes in Male’, learning to cook what the Italian tourists wanted and taking them around the islands.
Then they leased an uninhabited island, Vihamanafushi, built 30 coconut thatched huts on it, and welcomed the first organized groups of tourists to the resort they named Kurumba (the Dhivehi word for coconut) on 3 October 1972.
M U Maniku eventually became Chairman of Universal Resorts, which operates Kurumba as well as many other resorts; Hussein Afeef is still a vital force in tourism development.
Ahmed Naseem joined President Ibrahim Nasir in setting up Crescent Tourism Agency to operate and promote resorts. Visitors, mainly from Italy, Sweden and Germany totaled 3,790 in 1973.
By 1978 tourism had become an informal enterprise with wealthy guests from Europe staying in 26 resorts, and young sun worshipers who followed the hippy trail snaking down from India via Ceylon, lodging with locals on inhabited islands.
In 1978 regulations were introduced to sustain the industry and reduce its disruptive effect on the social and natural environment. Tourists were allowed to stay only in registered resorts on uninhabited islands and spear fishing was banned.
Customs and immigration controls were introduced. In 1981, the makeshift airport was opened to long-haul flights and tourism took off. By 2007, there were 89 resorts.
In 2010 a law was passed to encourage the development of independent guesthouses on inhabited islands. This enabled even more Maldivians to benefit directly from tourism – and all tourists, whatever their budget, could enjoy a visit to the Maldives.
Climate of Maldives
Being on the Equator where the sun is hottest, eight hours of brilliant sunshine are almost a daily occurrence in the Maldives, with an average of 230 to 250 hours a month.
Expect daytime temperatures to hover around 30 degrees Celsius, dropping to around 23 degrees at night. Rain? Rarely but, when it happens, it’s warm and tropical, refreshing the vegetation while the sea develops waves to thrill surfers.
The wettest months are May and November but even then the average rainfall is low and amounts to around 2,133mm annually. Humidity, with water vapor pervading the atmosphere, averages around 75 to 80% although this is tempered by sea breezes wafting over the low-lying islands.
Daylight lasts from 06.00 to 18.30hrs; the daily difference in tidal rise and fall is slight. The climate responds to two monsoon seasons, the Northeast (Iruvaa meaning easterly winds) from December to April and the Southwest (Hulhangu indicating stronger winds) from May to November. This is dubbed the rainy season only because
that’s the period when it might rain.
So when to have that holiday in the sun? As soon as you’re ready. The Maldives has a year round tropical climate and while the weather is unpredictable and squalls can strike suddenly, they are short. For more on climate, log on to: www.meteorology.gov.mv
Geography of Maldives
The Maldives is an independent republic (formerly a sultanate) in the Indian Ocean, comprising an archipelago of 188 inhabited islands, out of 1,190 islands set in 26 natural atolls. The English word ‘atoll’ derives from Dhivehi (the language of Maldivians): ‘atholhu’ – meaning ‘a ring shaped reef or chain of islands formed of coral’.
The islands stretch like a garland for 822km from 7 degrees north of the Equator to just south of it, with the greatest width from west to east being 130km. The territory embraces a total area of 90,000 sq km but that includes the sea, which forms 99.6% of the Maldives. The land area of all the islands amounts to 298 sq km. The nearest neighbors are India, 600 km distant to the north, and Sri Lanka, 670km to the east.
The islands are small (few are more than one square kilometer in area) and low-lying with neither rivers nor hills, their maximum height being about 2.4m above sea level. A shallow lagoon encircles each island, embraced by reefs; beyond the reefs the ocean deepens to 365m.
Male’ the capital city, lies to the north of the center of the atoll chain and is a heavily populated island with about 140,000 people and apartment and office blocks squeezed in an area of 5.8 sq km.
Over 115 uninhabited islands throughout the archipelago have been transformed into resorts of luxurious privacy and lush greenery, open only to tourists and staff. In recent years, guesthouses have been built on inhabited islands, giving tourists a wonderful chance to experience the Maldivian side of life.
Maldives Quick Facts
Accommodation in Maldives
Accommodation must be booked in advance of arrival to ensure a place to stay and the address must be entered on the Immigration form.
Guesthouses in Maldives
Either private homes with rooms for guests or purpose-built establishments with dedicated reception area and bedrooms with attached bathrooms and air-conditioning; there are some 400 on inhabited islands in all the atolls registered with the Ministry of Tourism.
Suitable for travelers on a lower budget, these offer a taste of Maldivian life with local cuisine and a chance to appreciate Maldivian culture. Some islands have beaches for tourist use; water sports and diving can be arranged.
On inhabited islands, a modest dress code applies and alcohol is prohibited but tourists can sometimes visit nearby resort islands or anchored LiveAboard boats for wining and dining.
Hotels in Maldives
There are 17 hotels with better facilities than guesthouses but, as these are on inhabited islands (mainly in Male’), alcohol is not permitted and guests must dress modestly in public.
Resorts in Maldives
Each of the registered tourist resorts is on its own uninhabited island with superlative architect- designed accommodation, either in beach side rooms or over water villas.
Decor is contemporary or tropical island-style, comfort is luxurious, food ranges from international gourmet fusion to eclectic buffets; there are bars and evening entertainment, dive schools and water sports, and well-trained staff on hand for a memorable holiday experience in exclusive privacy.
LIVEABOARD in Maldives
For small groups, a holiday on one of the registered LiveAboard boats is a chance to enjoy a diving or surfing safari, visiting a new dive spot every day and discovering the real Maldives, including desert islands perfect for a castaway picnic, arranged by the crew.
Cabins are simply furnished with ensuite bathrooms and a communal table for dining on local cuisine prepared on board; alcohol is available for tourists.
Arriving passengers must fill in an Immigration form with passport details and address in Maldives and proposed length of stay. Velana (formerly Ibrahim Nasir) International Airport is located on its own island about 10 minutes by passenger ferry from Male’.
Resort representatives meet all arriving passengers and some resorts have private lounges for their guests. In the public areas there are a spa, a pharmacy, a post office, mobile telephone bureaux, a bank, an ATM, a left luggage office and several coffee shops.
Duty free purchases can only be made on departure. As well as a fast track Immigration counter there are VIP lounges for airlines’ Business Class passengers.
Consumption of Alcohol in Maldives
The consumption of alcohol is only permitted by foreigners in resorts or on tourist LiveAboard vessels. It is not allowed on any inhabited island, even if you’re staying in a registered guesthouse or hotel.
Resort bars and restaurants, however, are well-stocked with premium spirits, traditional and tropical cocktails, and fine wines from around the world.
Aquatic Sports in Maldives
Some of the water sports available include banana boat riding, body boarding, catamaran sailing, canoeing, fly boarding, fun tube riding, glass bottom boat cruising, jet ski, kite surfing, knee boarding, paddle surfing, para-sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sports fishing, swimming, wake boarding, water skiing, wave surfing, windsurfing.
Emergency Telephone Numbers
- Ambulance 102
- Coast Guard 191
- Fire 118
- Police 119
(Sunday to Thursday)
Private Sector: 08:00-17:00hrs
Kids at Maldives Resorts
Some resorts do not permit children under eight years old; others provide babysitters, nurseries and playgrounds for kids. Resorts are fun and safe for children.
Clothing: What to wear in Maldives?
Because of the hot climate, clothes of cotton material are recommended. Tourists should respect local culture and dress modestly, keeping from shoulders to knees covered when visiting, or staying on, an inhabited island.
The Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) is a non-convertible currency only available in the Maldives. However, US dollars are acceptable legal currency anywhere in the Maldives, based on the rate of US$1.00 representing MVR15.42. All major credit cards and currencies such as Euro and British Pounds are also accepted in tourist resorts.
Customs & Prohibited Items
Tourists are prohibited from bringing in the following items: alcohol; chemicals; dogs; idols for worship; gun powder and explosives; live plants and live animals, medicines or steroids; materials contrary to Islam; narcotics and psychotropic substances; pork and pork products, pornographic materials; spear guns, firearms and ammunition.
Facilities for Specially Abled
In Male’ on request tour guides will assist disabled guests and arrange wheelchairs if required. All resorts have wheelchairs available and most of the resorts also have ramps in public areas and will customize ramps to rooms where there is no wheelchair access.
Duty Free Shopping in Maldives
At the Velana International Airport there are several
duty free shops selling high end souvenirs, top brand
perfumes and premium alcohol for export only.
As well as exotic buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner, many resorts feature fine dining of exquisite good taste in architecturally designed a-la-carte restaurants, even underwater ones.
Thanks to modern communications, swift transportation and expert chefs, every delectable dish can be had in the Maldives.
Exchanging money and traveller’s cheques can be done at the bank at Velana International Airport and at foreign exchange bureaux in Male’. Credit cards are accepted in the resorts.
The Maldives is a Republic governed by a President (elected every five years from candidates nominated by political parties) with a unicameral parliament of 85 members elected by universal franchise.
Traditional handicrafts made by islanders include lacquer work with red, black and gold patterns, mats (kunaa) woven from dried reeds, coconut crafts of leaves and shells, gold and silver lace, and cotton garments like the feyli, a black sarong with two white stripes.
Flag: Green rectangle with crescent in centre surrounded by a red border
Flower: Pink rose (Rosa polyantha)
Tree: Coconut palm
Nightclubs in Maldives
Most resorts feature some music entertainment at least once a week with Maldivian musicians playing popular favorites and good light jazz. A few resorts have a disco/nightclub for partying all night.
There is a counter selling postage stamps of interest to collectors in the National Museum, as well as a post office accustomed to tourist requests at the airport.
The Velana International Airport, and the International Airport at Gan can accommodate private jets. Arrangements should be made in advance through a local airline agent.
Private Yachts in Maldives
According to Customs regulations, any sea vessel that arrives in the Maldives from out of the country needs first to dock at a national port. These are Male’ Commercial Harbour, Velana International Airport, Hanimaadhoo International Airport, Kulhudhuffushi Regional Harbour, Gan International Harbour and Hithadhoo Regional Harbour.
Maldives Public Holidays
- Public holidays in 2018 are:
- 1 January: New Year’s Day
- 1 May: Labour Day
- 16 May: First day of Ramazan
- 15 June: Eid-ul Fithr
- 26 July: Independence Day
- 20 August: Hajj Day
- 21 August: Eid-ul Al’haa
- 11 Sep: Islamic New Year
- 3 Nov: Victory Day
- 11 Nov: Republic Day
- 20 Nov: Prophet Mohamed’s Birthday
- 9 Dec: The Day Maldives Embraced Islam
* Dates may change according to Islamic Calendar
There are safety box deposit arrangements in every resort and guesthouse for guests’ valuables. To retain their exclusivity and security, private resorts do not usually permit visitors. For safety at sea guests are advised to wear life jackets when traveling by speedboat.
In resorts there is no restriction on smoking, however resorts do allocate non-smoking areas within their establishment. In Male’ there are no smoking areas near schools, parks etc. Almost all restaurants in Male’ have smoking and non-smoking areas.
Visitors traveling alone won’t be lonely in the Maldives since many resorts organize activities for their guests; on inhabited islands, it’s easy to make friends with Maldivians.
At resort and island souvenir shops there are plenty of items like T-shirts and key rings with Maldives painted on them, as well as imported shell products and beach clothes.
The STO supermarket in Male’ stocks most things a tourist might need, including local food products, such as beach almonds.
The MIFCO store in Male’ has a wide range of locally produced tuna fish products in cans and jars which are genuinely Maldivian and make well-received gifts.
Taxes in Maldives
A Government Tax of 12% is levied on accommodation, restaurant and bar bills. A Green Tax of US$6.00 per person per day is levied on all guests staying at tourist resorts, tourist hotels or on LiveAboard vessels.
For tourists staying in guesthouses, the Green Tax is US$3.00 per person per day. A departure tax of US$25 for all tourists over two years old is included in the airline ticket price.
Hiring a Taxi
Taxis can be flagged down in the streets of Male’ and charge 25 rufiyaa per trip. They are also available in Hulhulmale’, Gan and other major inhabited islands..
While a service charge of 10% is added to restaurant bills, an extra 5% in cash given to the main server is appreciated but not expected. Housekeeping staff could be rewarded with US$5 per day per guest, and luggage carriers with US$5 on arrival and departure.
Maldives Visit Visa
Genuine tourists are granted a 30-day visit visa on arrival. People visiting for any other reason, especially as journalists or photographers, should apply for a visa in advance. http://www.immigration.gov.mv
- Ayurveda: This Asian natural healing system of herbal remedies and therapies is available at many resorts.
- Bookshops: Male’ has several bookshops where books about the Maldives can be found, as well as popular novels and stationery.
- Drinking Water: Bottled mineral water is readily available for drinking
- Economy: Tourism, Fishing, Shipping.
- Electricity: 240 volts
- Footwear: Sandals are ideal, as you will often want to slip them
off and go barefoot.
- Medical Attention: Some resorts have resident paramedics and there are private hospitals in Male’ as well as pharmacies in Male’ and on inhabited islands.
- Languages: Dhivehi and English
- Luggage: Bring as little as possible to the Maldives; you’ll only need beach wear, casual cotton clothes and sun lotion.
- Internet: Tourist establishments have fast WiFi access, usually free.
- Mobile Phones: SIM cards are available at the airport from the two mobile network shops and pre-payment can be made to use them for local and international calls and data usage.
- Population: The estimated population of the Maldives is over 400,000. This figure includes long-term expatriate workers.
- Public Toilets: In Male’ and other inhabited islands, guests can use the toilets in restaurants, hotels or cafés
- Religion: The Maldives is a 100% Sunni Muslim country.
- Romance: Romance is natural in the Maldives with every resort exuding an alluring charm. Some resorts specialize in honeymoon, anniversary and wedding vow packages.
- Telephone code: To call Maldives from overseas, dial 00960 followed by the local number.
- Time: The Maldives is five hours ahead of GMT.