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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for 05 Facts of Maldives Culture – An Ancient Island Nation
Joanna James Joanna James
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05 Facts of Maldives Culture – An Ancient Island Nation

One of the world's most loved tropical destinations, the Maldivian archipelago is a treat to all sun worshipers. But, the over 1,000 coral islands and abundant marine life are not the only allures; the place boasts a rich heritage and culture, as explored below.


Maldivian History

Archaeological evidence shows the islands were inhabited over 3,000 years ago. And while the country embraced Islam in 1153AD there is a history of Buddhism and Hinduism long before this. The first settlers to the islands were Tamils from India, Sinhalese from Sri Lanka and travelling Arab and African traders who greatly influenced the Islam faith across the archipelago. Tourism although a thriving industry in the Maldives, only began in 1972, when the first resort was opened; today when staying at resorts like Adaaran Club Rannalhi, many moons later, it is safe to assume this was a very wise move.


Dhivehi, the Maldivian Language

Dhivehi is influenced by Arabic, Sanskrit and Sinhalese languages, however, the dialect possesses its own script called Thaana which follows proper alphabet principles. Local Maldivians speak three dialects including one called Mahl or Malikhu, which is also the language of locals on the nearby Minicoy Island. A few phrases to learn when visiting a Maldives resort are Shukuriyaa for 'Thank You', Maruhabaa for 'you're welcome' and Asalam Alaikum as a formal 'hello'.


Food of Maldives

Maldivian cuisine is greatly influenced by the abundance of coconut palms as well as tuna and reef fish. The best hotels in Maldives often work wonders with these ingredients, treating guests to the finest traditional dishes. Combinations of these ingredients make-up some of the favoured dishes on the archipelago, such as roshi a type of coconut roti eaten for breakfast, garudhiya a clear fish soup packed with goodness and other delectable delights such as tuna and coconut salads and short-eats or snacks stuffed with a mix of fish and vegetables. Kurumba or coconut juice is a favoured drink on the islands, well known as a thirst quencher and quite refreshing to sip, especially when lying on the soft sand beach of your Maldives resort.


Maldivian Crafts and Clothing

The traditional dress for Maldivian men is the sarong, a length of cloth wrapped around the waist reaching to the feet. This is topped with a long sleeved shirt, traditionally in white colour. Women wear 'libaas' a type of dress, often worn for special occasions or for dance performances. Clothes are stitched in cotton fabric due to the islands tropical nature, and are often enhanced with gold embroidery and colourful beads; the best traditional dresses are the ones which are hand-stitched. Visit the Meeru Museum for a display of vintage clothing and footwear.


Maldivian Heritage Sites to Visit

There are a number of ruins of temples and shrines, belonging to various religions scattered across the islands. There are ancient mosques boasting coral walls, and vintage copper plates and scrolls to view. A heritage site the Old Friday Mosque is the oldest on the archipelago and a treat for any culture buff to explore.