Adventure > Destination of Maldives
 
 

Location
South West of Sri Lanka, on the equator.

Geography
Formed above peaks emerging from the depths of the ocean, upon layers of both living and dead coral, and remnants of other marine life, most of the islands are covered with dense tropical vegetation. Coconut palms towering above dense shrubs and hardy plants protecting the shores from erosion are natural features on most islands. The smaller islands and sandbanks under formation are also wonders in themselves. They embody living entities in various stages of formation, as interdependent elements in an ecosystem, a food chain where birds, fish, and other marine life co-exist. Humans form the apex, as caretakers.

Out of a total of 1190 islands, 200 are inhabited, 88 are set aside for exclusive tourist resort development. Measuring 820 kilometers north to south and 120 kilometers east to west at its greatest width, the closest neighbors are India and Sri Lanka

Climate
Generally warm and humid, sun shines all year through. Average temperature around 29º - 32º degrees Celsius.

What to wear: Dress is generally casual. T-shirts and cotton clothing are most suitable. In Male', the capital island, and in other inhabited islands it is recommended that women wear modest clothing without revealing too much.

Population
About a 0.3 million according to the 1997 estimate. The origins of the Maldivians are lost in antiquity, but history reveals that the islands have been populated for more than 5,000 years. According to some observers, sun worshippers who explored the world in reed ships discovered the islands.

Culture
A proud history and rich culture evolved from the time of the first settlers who were from various parts of the world, traveling the seas in ancient times. The Maldives has been a melting pot of different cultures as people from different parts of the world came here and settled down. Some of the local music and dance for instance resemble African influences, with hand beating of drums and songs in a language unknown to any but certainly represents that of East African countries. As one would expect there is a great South Asian influence in some of the music and dancing and especially in the traditional food of the Maldivians. However many of the South Asian customs especially with regard to women - for instance the Indian tradition of secluding women from public view - are not tenets of life here. In fact women play a major role in society - not surprising considering the fact men spend the whole day out at sea fishing. Many of the traditions are strongly related to the seas and the fact that life is dependent on the seas around them.
Language
‘Dhivehi' is the native language of the Maldives . However English is widely spoken throughout the country and in the resorts, a variety of languages including English, German, Italian, French and Japanese are spoken by the staff.

 

History
According to folklore, the Maldives was first colonized by an Indo-Aryan race between the 4th and the 5th centuries BC.  However it is certain that early settlers came via Sri Lanka and practiced age-old Buddhist customs.

The conversion to Islam took place in 1153. Legend tells us that during this time a demon rose from the depths of the ocean once every month and demanded a virgin girl to be sacrificed. A pious Moroccan saint, Abu al-Barakat, who visited Maldives at that time learned of the story and exorcised the demon by reading verses from the Quran. The event led the King at the time to embrace Islam.

The country has remained independent except for short periods of time, the longest being the 17-year Portuguese rule in the 16th Century. It is said that the sea grew red with Muslim blood as the invaders tried to enforce their Christian beliefs upon the islanders. In 1573, Mohammed Thakurufaanu, the greatest Maldivian hero, led a band of men into Male' harbor and in the pitch darkness of the night searched for and slaughtered the enemy. In 1782 the Malabars from the East Coast of India attacked the Maldives destroying the palace and driving the Sultan into exile. Their rule was short-lived. Within months the people became resistant and a group led by Ghaazee Hassan Izzuddeen fought against the enemy forces and defeated them.

In 1887 the Maldives became a British protectorate. However, the British never interfered with the internal politics of the country. In 1965 the country became a fully independent state and in 1968 a Republic was declared.

Weather
The Maldivian climate is the perfect place for sun lovers The climate of Maldives is warm year round, determined by the monsoons. However, being on the equator, the monsoons are mild and not as defined as in neighboring countries. Of the two monsoons, the southwest monsoon from May to October brings some rain and wind. The northeast monsoon from November to April is the dry season with very little wind. The temperature varies little with an annual average daily maximum of 30.4º degrees Celsius and a minimum of 25.9º degrees Celsius.

Language
Dhivehi

The language of the Maldivians is Dhivehi and displays much resemblance to several other languages from Sri Lanka , South East Asia and North India . It contains many Arabic, Hindi and English words.

Historically speaking the early people spoke 'Elu” a form of ancient Sinhalese. The language had undergone many transformations and the present day Dhivehi is written from left to right, probably to incorporate many of the Arabic words used. Modern ‘Thaana' script was invented in the 16th century following the overthrow of Portuguese. The earliest Dhivehi is inscribed on copper plates known as the 'Loamaafaanu'. The script is written with letters and vowels separately on top or below the letters, depending on the sound.

Dhivehi is used equivocally in the administration of the country. Until the 1960s, Dhivehi was also the medium of teaching in all schools, but with the need for further education, Dhivehi medium syllabuses gave way to English medium teaching. For this reason, English is widely understood, spoken and written by the locals.

 

Protecting the Environment

Fragile Beauty
White sandy beaches sparkling in the sun alongside crystal clear lagoons offer an idyllic place to spend a perfect holiday. While this is true in most aspects, the degree of fragility of the islands environment is gaining much attention at national and international levels. The fragile marine and terrestrial environments, including the reefs and their bio-diversity, will be greatly affected without careful management of the environment. Such awareness has brought many concerns to light, and the Government is taking extensive measures towards protecting the environment.

The whole capital island is enclosed within sea walls, a protection measure to reduce the impending hazards of climatic change and sea level rise.

In 1989 the first National Environmental Action Plan was developed forming a base for future actions to prevent environmental hazards.

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Protected Marine Areas
Steps have been taken to avoid over-exploitation of natural resources. Protected Marine Areas were established in 1995. This was the first step in protecting these areas from the detrimental effects of over-fishing, coral mining, anchor damage and rubbish. The killing of turtles, which is under threat of extinction, is banned and the export of turtle shells and products made of turtle shell is prohibited. Many other marine species are similarly protected.

Sport fishing practiced by some islands is now confined to the tag and release method.

 


Meetings and Conferences

The Maldives was proud to host a ministerial level meeting, Small States Conference on Sea Level Rise, in 1989 calling for various actions to be incorporated in the Male' Declaration. The Maldives also participated in the Second World Climatic Conference in 1990 and the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In 1994 the Maldives participated in the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and in 1997 participated in the Kyoto Conference. Also in 1997 the 13th Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change was held in the Maldives .

Maldives ' approach to environmental issues as with many other small states stays in harmony with the concept 'Think globally and act locally'

Maldives – Atoll Formations

The atolls of the Maldives are formed from coral structures, separated by lagoons. The atolls are in fact part of a greater structure known as the Laccadives-Chagos Ridge, which stretches over 2000 kilometers. The islands are low lying with the highest point at approximately 8 feet above sea level. 'Faru' or ring-shaped reef structures form the atolls and these reefs provide natural defense against wind and wave action, on these delicate islands.

Out of the 26 naturally formed atolls, the largest atoll is the Huvadhoo Atoll, one of the largest in the world with a lagoon covering an area of 864 square miles. Out of the 1,190 islands, the largest island is the Fua Mulaku Island , which is two miles long and one mile wide.

The word "atoll" is a word in the English language that the Oxford Dictionary has extracted from the Maldivian language. This certainly is an indication of just how perfect the Maldivian atoll formations are.

The famous English geologist, Charles Darwin, best describes atoll formation. His theory is based on volcanic subsidence. As the volcano subsides into the sea, small fringing reefs start developing around it. In time the fringing reef develops and further subsidence increases reef formation. The fringing reef later develops into a larger barrier reef. Eventually when the volcano subsides completely, rings of reefs will be seen around the atoll leaving a lagoon in the middle. Thus an atoll is formed.

 

 
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