While very little is known about the ancient history of the Maldives scholars and historians believe that the Maldives is an old nation populated well over 2500 years ago. The Maldivian race is the result of several waves of settlement from various parts of the Indian subcontinent and thousands of years of interactions of people of different races and ethnicities that crisscrossed the Indian Ocean over several centuries. The country’s culture and traditions and the diverse physical traits of the people bear witness to the fact that the country was, due to its geographical location, a melting pot of people and cultures. The Maldivian language is Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan language with its origins in Sanskrit.
The most recent census in 2014 enumerated the population at 407,660 people. A third of the population lives in Male’, while the rest live in 200 islands scattered across the length of the country.
The livelihood of Maldivians traditionally depended on the seas, fishery being the main source of sustenance. While fishery still contributes significantly to the economy in terms of employment and income, tourism is the main source of income for the Maldivian economy today.
Although home to just over half a million people the Maldives has its own unique culture and traditions. While heavily influenced by various cultures around the rim of the Indian Ocean, the Maldivian culture, craft and traditions have been shaped by the island environment and the seas that surround us.
Dhivehi is the language of the Maldivian people. Our current script, Thaana is unique and was developed from Arabic numerals around the 16th century. Maldivians are master boat builders. The traditional Maldivian boat, dhoni has been shaped over centuries, resulting in a craft that perfectly suits the various conditions of the seas. The traditional cuisine is heavily based on fish and coconut, with several dishes that have no parallels anywhere in the region.
Our music and dance display strong influences of East Africa, Arabia and the Indian subcontinent. There is a rich tradition of Maldivian crafts; lacquered wooden ornaments, finely woven reed mats, and coral carvings are crafts that have been passed down through several generations.
The Maldives has one of the most delicate environments anywhere on the planet. Coral reefs are the foundation of the islands. They offer protection to the tiny islands as their natural defence system, and the country’s economy depends heavily on the health of its reefs and ecosystems.
Several conservation efforts are underway to protect the valuable marine environment of Maldives. While several marine species and birds are protected by law, protected areas have been designated to ensure the conservation of specific ecosystems and the rich biodiversity of the country. This includes designated nature reserves in islands of various atolls to protect wetlands and mangroves and the protection of marine areas and the designation of biosphere reserves that covers coral reefs, islands, seagrass beds and mangroves.
Several resorts too conduct their own programs. While some programs conducted by resorts focus on the protection and rehabilitation of sea turtles, others are engaged in cutting edge research on the regeneration of coral reefs. Several community education programs are also conducted by resorts for school children and the community at large. Non-governmental organizations also play an important role through their voluntary programs and conduct regular beach and reef clean up programs.
Visitors to the Maldives are advised to carry back their own non-biodegradable waste and to take care not to stand on, touch or remove coral structures while snorkelling or diving.
The Maldives is well connected with the rest of the world. Several flights from Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia operate to Velana International Airport, the main gateway to the Maldives. The highest international traffic is from Colombo, Sri Lanka, various Indian cities and Dubai, while several scheduled and charter flights bring in passengers from all major European capitals, and South-East Asian cities.
Once in the Maldives, you can travel to any of the twelve domestic and international airports to which several daily flights are operated. Scheduled ferry services also operate from Male’ to most of the atolls.
If you are travelling to a resort, your transfer will most likely be prearranged at the time of booking your accommodation. Transfers to resorts around the airport are by speedboat and transfers to resorts and islands further afield are by seaplane.
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INTERNATIONAL TELEPHONE CODE
Prepaid SIM cards are available from two mobile service providers at the airport. The SIM cards can be used for local and international call and data.
The Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) is the local currency. All major credit cards are accepted in the country.
All nationalities receive a 30-day visa on arrival, provided that you have a valid passport, an onward ticket to continue your journey and a reservation at a tourist facility or enough funds to cover your stay in the country.
A Tourism Goods and Service Tax (TGST) of 12% is levied on all goods and services at tourist establishments. A Green Tax of US$ 6.00 per person per day is payable for guests staying at tourist accommodation except for guest houses where the Green Tax is US$ 3.00 per person per day.
TRAVEL AND TRANSFER
Speedboat transfer is the norm to resorts close to the International Airport. The rest is covered by seaplane or domestic flight. If you are travelling to Male’ you can take a taxi from the airport. Several daily flights operate from Velana International Airport to the 12 domestic and international airports in the country. Scheduled ferries also operate from Male’ to many of the atolls.
Import of alcohol by individuals is not permitted. However, alcohol is available at all resorts.
Year-round temperature hot tropical climate. The average high temperature is 31.5 degree Celsius and the average low temperature is 26.4 degree Celsius. The Southwest monsoon from May to October brings rain and the Northeast monsoon from November to April is generally sunny.
Cotton clothes suit well the hot tropical climate of the Maldives. Tourist is expected to respect local culture and dress modestly when visiting or staying on inhabited islands. Sandals are ideal, as you may often want to slip them off and go barefoot.
The main public hospital Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and private hospitals ADK and Treetop are located in Male’. Each Atoll has at least one hospital and most resorts have their own clinics and in-house doctors.
THRILLING SIDE OF LIFE
The Maldives is 99% water and just one per cent of the land. And as one might expect, the thrills of the Maldives lie on, under or over the surface of the water. Wherever you choose to holiday in the Maldives, there are watersports on offer. But be mindful that some resorts prefer to offer their guests complete tranquillity without the sound of motorized engines that propel many a ride on the water. But even those resorts would offer relaxing canoe rides, windsurfing, snorkelling and diving.
If you are serious about the thrill, choose one of the resorts or a guesthouse on an island that offer them all. Bouncy banana rides with friends and family, a solo ride trimming the waves on a jet ski or skimming the lagoon at high speeds on a wakeboard, all of which would offer you that adrenaline rush that you seek to feel rejuvenated and at one with the elements. For the serious water sports enthusiast, there is kite surfing, parasailing or just navigating solo around the reefs on a catamaran.
There’s more of course. Dedicate your holiday to test the surf breaks that dot the atolls. Or if you take diving seriously you can plan your dive holiday with a range of dives with night dives and wreck dives that will sate your thirst for the underwater.
FUN SIDE OF LIFE
The Maldives offers a host of facilities and opportunities to fuel your sense of excitement. Whether you are staying on a plush resort, a hotel in Male’, or in a simple guesthouse on an island in an atoll far away, there is a lot you can choose for yourself or your family.
Entertainment and daily excursions are on the menu wherever you are. Excursions offer an experience for you or your family, to take in more of the Maldives. Sandbanks that dazzle under the midday sun, snorkelling over pristine reefs, and experiencing local island towns is part of half-day or full-day excursions, what’s more, a barbeque on the beach for lunch is often thrown in to get that additional punch to the day’s experience. How about night fishing or dolphin watching, swimming with whale sharks and mantas? On land, there is beach volley, tennis, volleyball and badminton. For the kids, there are child play areas and fun activities in many of the resorts.
If you stay in a guesthouse on an inhabited island, you will have the chance to meet Maldivians, experience local culture and cuisine, and join in what the islanders do for relaxation, playing football in the late afternoon, lounging on one of the goals near the beach or relaxing over a hot black tea and eating “short eats” in a seaside café.
COLORFUL SIDE OF LIFE
The Maldives is blessed with about 5% of the global reef area, and 250 species of coral, teeming with over 1000 species of fish. Nearly half of those who visit the Maldives snorkel or dive and experience the colourful world beneath the surface. While some dedicate their holiday entirely to experience the magic underwater, others take a more leisurely approach. A dive centre is an essential component of any resort and there are more than one dive centres in most of the guesthouse islands. Liveaboards carry their own dive gear if the tour is dedicated to diving and all liveaboards without exception would carry a collection of snorkelling equipment.
For a leisurely snorkel, you can just wade from the beach to the house reef on most islands. Resorts and guesthouses also organize their very own snorkelling excursions. If you intend to dive, just visit the dive school on the island as soon as you arrive. The dive guides would work out a schedule for you to suit your requirement. Dive schools offer dive courses leading to certification from beginner level to advanced and dive courses are conducted in many languages.
SPIRITUAL SIDE OF LIFE
In the Maldives, a spa is, let’s say, more than just a spa. It’s an experience, a journey that will touch your soul. A journey that you can indulge yourself in, and an opportunity to splurge on your mind, body and soul.
Resort spas not only match the luxurious environs and the classy touches of their cosy bungalows and sexy villas. Spas in the Maldives are an experience in themselves. Sprawling garden spas, with massage rooms merged into their lush tropical surroundings, or one built on stilts over the crystalline waters of the lagoon, it’s for you to choose. Immerse yourself in meditation. Just you and the boundless blue horizon, where the endless sea merges into the sky, with not a speck that distracts you from your mind.
If total indulgence is not your cup of tea, just get a good relaxing massage after a day of fun, sun and activity. Choose any message that you desire and give yourself into the calming ambience and the competent hands of the highly skilled masseurs. Every spa offers a world of secure serenity where exotic therapies defy the imagination
MALDIVIAN SIDE OF LIFE
The Maldives is made up of a thousand two hundred islands, all different in their own unique ways. The geography of the Maldives alone is something one would not get tired of observing. The archipelago is made up of 26 atolls, rings formed of islands and reefs of varying shapes, depths and sizes that present hues of blue, turquoise to indigo.
Visit any one of the country’s two hundred inhabited islands and observe our unique lifestyle, shaped over millennia, by the unique make-up of the tiny islands they inhabit and the seas that surrounds them. Our culture, cuisine and craft have been shaped by the resources that were available from our surroundings and the skills that were brought in by the waves of settlers from around the Indian Ocean, who made the islands their home, over thousands of years.
Experience the relaxed attitude and style of islanders, which modernization has found impossible to change. Stroll on the beach, engage with the locals and get an insight into their lives. Who knows, you could get invited to visit one of their homes and meet their families.
ROMANTIC SIDE OF LIFE
Tread the soft white sands of the beach as you walk hand in hand, letting the gentle waves lap your feet. Feel the breeze on your face and immerse yourself in the music made by the rustle of the palms. You leave footsteps behind, as you colour the dreams of your life ahead. There is no better place for romance, where all the ingredients for love come together in perfect harmony, where you commit or recommit to each other to love and to cherish for the rest of your lives.
No matter where you stay in the Maldives, there’s a sense of romance that you cannot evade. Love is in the air, wherever you are. No wonder the Maldives is one of the most desired honeymoon destinations for couples ready to tie the knot, across the world. A resort that’s dedicated to romance, a bungalow nestled in the lush vegetation, a villa over the water looking out on the horizon, a wedding on the beach, a renewal of vows, it’s yours to choose. Whatever you choose, you will carry with you, boundless memories for the rest of your journey together.