The Republic of Maldives is found in the Indian Ocean, in the south-west of Sri Lanka and India. It comprises 1190 islands (200 of those are uninhabited), grouped into natural atolls, scattered throughout an area with 90.000km2.

Its official language is Dhivehi, whose roots are found in Sanskrit and its capital is Malé.

All islands have sparse vegetation and its highest peak is only 2 meters above sea level. All the sand that you see in the islands has a coralline origin.

Atoll

Oddly enough, the word atoll derives from the Maldivian term “atolu”.

Usually, an atoll is constituted when the tops of an island of volcanic origin, which was surrounded by reefs, sink into the sea. The outcome of such process is a big-ring shaped reef, with a pond in its centre. All the islands that constitute this ring have, as a consequence, coralline sand, stemming from the corals.

The ponds have a massive biological diversity of fish, shellfish, among others. It is truly amazing! These are locations with warm and turquoise water, with beaches that match any dreamlike postcard…

There are several atolls spread all over the world, particularly in the tropical and subtropical zones. The Maldives are always included in the world’s best-of lists.

History

The history of these islands started in the 5th century BC, when the Aryan colonization took place, a people from central Asia.

Some reports of travelers stated that the Maldives were ruled by women in the period that preceded its contact with Islam. The religion of Islam was officially adopted in 1153, hence replacing Buddhism, and so that situation changed.

The Portuguese occupied the islands in the 16th century (for a 15-year period) and, in the 18th century, a people from southern India did the same (for 3 months and 20 days). Except for these 2 occasions, the islands have always been independent, despite having willingly accepted to be an English protectorate in 1887. The sultan ruled and the British had their say in matters of foreign relationships and defense.

A referendum was held in the 20th century, resulting in the abolishment of the sultanate and the Maldives became a republic in the process.

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