History & Culture

Maldives History

For Maldivians, who love a good story, it is somehow fitting that the early history of the country is enshrined in myth and legend. There is the story of the Rannamaari, a tale about a sea monster than demands a virgin sacrifice every full moon, until a brave man from Morocco, Mr Abdul Barakaath-Ul Barbary decides to confront the monster and prohibit him from coming into the Maldives.

The first settlers of the Maldives were known to be Buddhist seafarers from India and Sri Lanka, early in the 5th Century B.C. the country was then called The Maldive Islands. According to tradition Islam was adopted in 1153. Originally, the islands were under the suzerainty of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). They came under British protection in 1887 and were a dependency of then-colony Ceylon until 1948. An independence agreement with Britain was signed July 26, 1965. For centuries, the islands adopted a republican form of government in 1952, but the sultanate was restored in 1954. In 1968, however, as the result of a referendum, a republic was again established in the recently independent country. Ibrahim Nasir, the authoritarian president since 1968, was removed from office and replaced by the more progressive Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 1978. 


Maldives had played host to numerous communities worldwide throughout history as Maldives was an important crossroad in the Indian Ocean. This makes Maldivian culture an array of various influences gathered from merchants and visitors who set foot in the country over the centuries. These influences came from South Asia, Arabia, Africa and this has contributed to the rich culture of Maldivians. Maldivians have assimilated these influences and created their own unique culture over the years.

Being a South Asian country, Maldives has embraced the region’s influence in music, dancing and more particularly, the traditional food.