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Maldives History & Culture

The Maldives has been an independent state throughout its history except for a short period of 15 years. From sixteenth century Maldives was ruled by Portuguese. Also Dutch and French occasionally.

In 1887 Maldives become a British protectorate and remained under the rule of the British till 26 July 1965. The independent Maldives reverted from a Sultanate to a Republic on 11 November 1968.

The first written constitution was proclaimed in 1932. The first settlers of Maldives was Aryan immigrants . After them migration from South India as well as Sri Lanka occurred.

The contact with outside world was believed to start on around 947 AD with the arrival of first Arabian traveler. Description of the wonderful Maldives spread all over the world.

The heavenly beauty and expensive natural sources like Pearls, Spices, Coconut, Dried Fish and Cowrie shells attracted so many travelers and traders to this beautiful land.

The Cowrie shells were the accepted currency from Africa to China until the sixteenth century. The Maldivian language is said to be Indo-Aryan with influences from Sinhalese, Tamil, Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu and Arabic.

The outside world influenced Maldivian life significantly as legends and history reveal. Early traders found Buddhist customs and practices. But the greatest contribution made by the Persian and Arab Travelers was the conversion of the Maldivians to Islam in 1153 AD when the last Buddhist king of Maldives converted to Islam.

The main person responsible for this conversion was a Sunny visitor named Abu al Barakat. It is generally said that the conversion of the Maldives to Islam was peaceful, but historical evidence suggests the contrary.

It is believed that before Buddhism, Hinduism also existed in Maldives. Since the conversion to Islam, the Maldives boasts of a past that is rich and colorful. The system of government was a monarchy with Sultans as sovereigns while Sultanas or queens ruled on rare occasions.

The interest of Middle Eastern peoples in Maldives resulted from its strategic location and its abundant supply of Cowrie shells then used as a currency throughout Asia and parts of the East African coast.

The greatest challenge facing the republic in the early 1990s was the need for rapid economic development and modernization, because of Maldive’s limited resources which base in fishing, agriculture and tourism.

Concern was also evident over a projected long-term rise in sea level, which would prove disastrous to the low-lying coral islands.

In 1968 the a Republic was formed. On 11 November 1968, Mr Ibrahim Nasir was proclaimed the First President of the Second Republic. In 1978 Mr Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was elected the President of the Maldives. He has been the President for a long 26 years.

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