The Maldives

Welcome to the Maldives, where sands are white as the smiles of the locals, where fish swim happily in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, where the weather is a dream, and the deep rays of the sun wait to engulf you their arms.
Truly Maldives is where the serenity and ethereal beauty spreads over a thousand coral islands, bathed in glorious sunlight. Maldives a true natural paradise with lush green tropical vegetation, aligned with palms, bordered with milky sandy shores. Maldives, where the blue lagoons and the warm lapping waters of the Indian Ocean abundant with marine life, invites you to the absolute tranquility of nature, sophistication camouflaged by the glory of its natural surroundings at its myriad of luxury hotels and resorts.

History & Culture

The first Maldivians did not leave any archaeological artifacts. Their buildings were probably built of wood, palm fronds and other perishable materials, which would have quickly decayed in the salt and wind of the tropical climate. Moreover, chiefs or headmen did not reside in elaborate stone palaces, nor did their religion require the construction of large temples or compounds.
Comparative studies of Maldivian oral, linguistic and cultural traditions and customs confirm that the first settlers were people from the southern shores of the neighboring Indian subcontinent, including the Giraavaru people mentioned in ancient legends and local folklore about the establishment of the capital and kingly rule in Male.
A strong underlying layer of Dravidian population and culture survives in Maldivian society, with a clear Tamil-Malayalam substratum in the language, which also appears in place names, kinship terms, poetry, dance, and religious beliefs. Malabari and Debal seafaring culture led to Malayali (and possibly Sindhi) settling during the Indus valley civilization.
The earliest written history of the Maldives was marked by the arrival of Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka and the Maldives (Mahiladvipika) circa 543 to 483 BC, as reported in the Mahavansa. Their settlement marks a significant change in demographics and the development of the Indo-Aryan language Dhivehi language.

Geography

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 kilometers (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 submarine ridge 960 kilometers (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 organized 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 meters (7ft 10 in) and 1.5 meters (4ft 11 in) above sea level, respectively. In areas where construction exists, however, this has been increased to several meters. More than 80 per cent of the country’s land is composed of coral islands which rise less than one meter above sea level. 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.

Fishing Industry

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 mechanization 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 programs 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.

Island Life

Traditionally the island communities were very close. This can still be seen in the island communities. Mostly the men will be involved in fishery, carpentry and toddy tapping. While the women were mainly engaged in household duties and raising families. Various rituals and practices were followed in the islands on special occasions like weddings. Few of these rituals survive to this day.
The beginning of tourism in the 1970’s enhanced the modernization process of the country. However, times have changed and there is an increasing number of women holding key positions within the public and private sector.

Transportation

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. 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 organizes 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

Music

The Maldives has a rich culture of music and dance. Few of these cultural music and dances can be traced to faraway continents. Many resorts organize cultural performances to entertain their guests. One of the most celebrated Maldivian cultural displays which involve singing and dancing is called the “Bodu Beru”. Other traditional music and dance items include; Dhandi Jehun, Langiri, Thaara and Gaa Odi Lava. Maldivian women perform some cultural routines as wsell. Such as the Bandiyaa jehun, Maafathi Neshun and Bolimalaafath Neshun. Many of these acts were designed to be perform in the royal courts for the Sultans ruling during that time.

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