Insights into the History & Culture of the Maldives – A Captivating South Asian Nation

13th Sep 2021

A popular holiday destination, the Maldives has a fascinating history and rich heritage which are intrinsically linked to its culture which is worth experiencing on a visit.

Brief History

Settlers from Sri Lanka and south India are believed to have inhabited the Maldives from around the 5th century BC; subsequently, Buddhism was introduced though, during the 12th century, with the arrival of Arab traders, the country soon adopted Islam. This nation, which also came under Portuguese and British rule, gained independence on 26th July 1965.

A Muslim Nation

The country is a fully Muslim nation with Sunni Islam being the state religion. As such, its laws are linked to Islam as well; for example, on local islands, it’s prohibited to sell alcohol, while attire should be conservative as well. However, at Maldives beach resort properties on private islands, such rules don’t apply.

Local Languages

The official language is Dhivehi which is Indo-Aryan in origin with similarities to Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese language. As you would expect in a Muslim nation, Arabic is also used and taught in schools. With the advent of tourism and global commerce, English is commonly spoken and understood in such sectors as well.

Other Elements

There are many other elements of the culture in Maldives; traditional livelihoods include fishing and making handicrafts like reed mats and lacquered ornaments of wood. Also of note is the cuisine (influenced by India and Sri Lanka) as well as bodu beru drumming and music influenced by African culture.