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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for The List of Cultures and Traditions of the Maldives - Ideas and customs of the Indian Ocean island nation
Joanna James Joanna James
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The List of Cultures and Traditions of the Maldives - Ideas and customs of the Indian Ocean island nation

Renowned for pristine white sands, turquoise blue waters and blissful tropical vibes, the Maldives also has a side of authenticity that is just as incredible. Acquaint yourself with the ideas, customs, and way of life of the Maldives for a better grasp of the Asian island nation.


History - Hark back to the days of yore

The archipelagic country of 1,200 islands has only little documented about its early past. It is presumed that Buddhists from India and Sri Lanka are the first people ever to call the Maldives home. In 1153, Arab traders who saw the spread-out archipelago as a convenient stop instilled Islam on the islands, which is still the country's official religion to date. Later in 1558, the Portuguese forcibly took control of the island nation. They were later defeated and replaced by the Dutch with the support of Maldivians. Come 1796, the Maldives was made a British protectorate as the British took over Ceylon and later gained independence from Britain in 1965. Since then, tourism has been the primary focus of the Indian Ocean island nation.


Language - A dose of the past of the local dialect

Dhivehi is the official as well as the widely spoken language in the Republic of Maldives. Stemmed from Indo-Aryan origin, Dhivehi has also been influenced by Sinhalese – the official language of Sri Lanka – and a clutch of other Indian languages. Dhivehi too shares the same distinctive characteristic as most Arab languages, which are read from right to left. While the people of the South Asian island nation are commonly referred to as Maldivians, they are also called Dhivehi, which interestingly enough, resembles the Indian word "deevi", which means island.


Religion - Holy Islam

Islam is the official and, supposedly, the only allowed religion in the Maldives. However, Buddhism has been predominant in the archipelagic nation for quite some time in the early past, as Buddhists from India and Sri Lanka were the first to inhabit the islands. Later in 1152 AD, the Maldives had been officially named an Islamic state. Now, almost every part of life here revolves around Islam and its highly discussed Sharia Law.


Frowned-ons - 'No no(s)' in the tropical island nation

While the world may see the Maldives as the No 1 honeymoon destination on earth and an idyllic tropical island paradise, things are pretty conservative outside those opulent resort islands. As a nation that strongly abides by the Sharia Law, no alcohol is allowed in the country. PDA, skinny dipping and even something as simple as a peck on the cheek in public should be avoided at all costs.


Etiquette - Socially and culturally approved

Tipping is not generally expected and will not affect your Maldives experience regardless. As most luxury hotels and resorts, including the likes of Saii Lagoon Maldives, include a service charge as part of the bill, you'd be tipping anyway, at least indirectly. It is advisable for both men and women to have their shoulders and knees covered when heading outside resort islands to local communities.

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