The Maldives’s swaying palm trees and crystal lagoons have earned it the title of a paradise. But the archipelago has had its share of upheaval. A 2004 tsunami and a military coup brought political turmoil to this low-lying nation that is home to only a few million people. Visit Sultan Park and the National Museum (Chaandhanee Magu, Male) to get a sense of the country’s troubled past.
The country’s culture is rich and varied. Maldivians have built and preserved their unique cultural identity amidst the many influences of immigration, commerce, war and natural disasters.
There is a strong emphasis on family and community in the culture. Women play a very significant role in society and it is believed that the country was once a matriarchy. Women are prominent in the business sector and in government.
Maldivians have a deep connection to the sea, which has been their livelihood for centuries. Every island is surrounded by a coral reef and fishing has always played a vital role in the economy. Fishing boats can be seen cruising on the seas early in the morning looking for tuna. Once the catch is landed it is brought to the beach where locals gather and see the fresh catch. The fish is then cleaned and taken back to the house where it is cooked for dinner.
The cuisine is largely seafood-based and features a litany of fish dishes such as fried fish, fish curry, fish patties, fish balls, and fish soup. After your meal, enjoy a glass of coconut water, the traditional drink of choice.