Maldives is well known for its pristine beaches, crystal clear water and world-class resorts but beyond the luxury islands lies a country with a unique history and culture. The culture of Maldives has been influenced by many different factors including its geographic position, immigration and commerce.

Despite the numerous influences, Maldivians have managed to retain a distinct cultural identity. They pay great respect to elders and the family is the centre of life. They are also renowned for their hospitality. Most families are nuclear in nature and women enjoy a respectable role within the society. Women are allowed to maintain their maiden names after marriage and polygamy is illegal.

The main language of the country is Dhivehi which is closely related to Sinhalese and 98.6% of the population practice Sunni Islam. Other minor languages include Sinhalese, Gujarati and Malayalam.

History of Maldives

The Maldives have a long and proud history as a trading nation. The country was once a major exporter of two key products – cowrie shells and tuna. Cowrie shells were prized as a form of currency in many parts of the world and sailors would visit the islands to pick up these valuable shells. Tuna and coir fibre from the husks of coconuts were also key exports.

Today the economy of Maldives is mainly dependent on tourism and fisheries. It follows a nonaligned policy and has friendly relations with all countries. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami destroyed some of the islands and the country has experienced political unrest.

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