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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Things You Should Know About Maldives - A Historical Treasure Trove
Joanna James Joanna James
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Things You Should Know About Maldives - A Historical Treasure Trove

The Maldives is more than just a holiday paradise, the country has a rich culture and equally rich biodiversity. Here are some interesting and quirky facts you may not have known about the Maldives.


It was first colonised by an Indian prince

According to lore, the Maldives was first colonised by Indians, the date is unknown but it is believed to have happened before 269 BC. Maldivian history says the islands were first inhabited by a peaceful community who worshipped the sun and ocean. However, the king of Kalinga in India, was angry with his son and banished him to the Maldives - which was then known only as Dheeva Maari. Prince Sri Soorudasaruna Adeettiya, established the Adeetta Dynasty. This period was never clearly recorded and so what's known is a mix of history and legends.


It's an Islamic nation

Anyone travelling to the islands should know that Maldives is an Islamic nation, which follows very strict laws and traditions. The Maldives first converted to Islam in the early 12th century by Islamic holy men, who travelled with merchants. By the 16th century, the chain of islands had been colonised by the Portuguese, who tried to convert the inhabitants to Christianity, and but failed. After much violence, and the restoration of Islamic rule, the position of the king of Maldives came to be seen as a sacred position blessed by Allah. By law, all government officials must be Sunni Muslim.


Maldivians are extremely superstitious

Several people in the Maldives believe in the supernatural, especially in magic. An example of this is the famous coconut that was detained by police in 2013. Found 'loitering' outside a polling station during the presidential elections, the coconut was accused of being there to rig the elections. A frequent ingredient in black magic rituals, the police apparently consulted with a white magician to check for curses. No such curses were found, the coconut was declared innocent of crime.


Tourists must adhere to Muslim law

Due to the country's strict Islamic law, alcohol is prohibited everywhere except at resorts, and it cannot be carried off the property. Tourists are expected to abide by all laws and traditions whilst on the islands, and this includes avoiding consuming food or beverages in public during the holy month of Ramadan. You may find a few restaurants that cater to foreigners, but they will usually be screened from public view. Unless your Muslim, public observations of faith are illegal, tourists cannot carry religious items like crosses, bibles, or even a skullcap into the country.


Majestic marine life

At any time of the year, there are between ten to twelve species of whales and dolphins that swim near the coral reefs. The Maldives has garnered such a positive reputation for its stunningly diverse marine life, that most of the luxury Maldives hotels, such as the Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, for example, provide travellers with as many opportunities available to watch these beautiful creatures swimming near their respective locations. Commonly seen species include the dwarf sperm whales, pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, and orcas, among many others.


Submerged Cabinet Meetings

Speaking of its marine life - climate change and the oceans rising levels are a big concern for the Maldives, with several islands already evacuated due salt water contamination in their fresh water supply. In order to raise more awareness to climate change, President Mohamed Nasheed, staged the 2009 cabinet meeting at the bottom of the ocean. This may sound like a joke, but the president and thirteen officials wore scuba diving gear and sat around tables that had been previously submerged.