The Maldives is an archipelago of 1,190 islands in the Indian Ocean. Its cosmopolitan culture combines influences from India, Sri Lanka and Africa.

A largely Muslim nation, the Maldives is governed by a constitution and an 87-member Majlis (senate) that is elected for five years. It has a two-level administrative structure: Male, the capital city, and the seven provinces and 20 atolls that make up the country.


The Republic of Maldives is a multi-party state governed by a president and the Majlis, a unicameral legislature. The constitution is based on Islam and has been in force since 2008.


Tourism remains the single largest economic driver of the Maldives, while fishery provides a significant source of income. The government collects taxes on the profits of businesses and financial institutions and on goods and services within the tourism sector.

Cultural heritage

The Maldives has a diverse cultural legacy that traces back to the 5th century bce and is believed to have been inhabited by Buddhist peoples from Sri Lanka and southern India. Early Maldivian architecture was heavily influenced by North Indian construction methods, and many of the island’s mandala-shaped buildings were built during a 1400-year Buddhist period.

Food and drink

Traditional Maldivian cuisine reflects a broad range of cultural influences from around the world. Curries, a favorite of locals and visitors alike, are a staple and vary from meat and chicken curries to vegetable curries filled with fresh spices and exotic flavors. The most popular curry dish is Mas Riha, which is made with diced tuna fish and a mix of coconut, peppers and chilies, served hot or cold.

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