Due to its geographical location the Maldives has been exposed to many cultural and genetic influences over the centuries. Traces of Africa, Arabia, Indonesia and India can be found in the cuisine and the physical traits of Maldivians. The country is a predominantly Islamic nation and the majority adhere to strict religious laws and codes of conduct. The society promotes respect for elders and strong bondage with immediate family members and women enjoy a respectable role in the community. The legal age for marriage is 18 but it is common for men and women to marry at a younger age. The society also promotes the equality of inheritance between male and female and most families are nuclear in nature.
The economy of the Maldives is heavily reliant on tourism and fishery. However, the government has undertaken a successful economic reform programme since the 1980s. In the same period import quotas were lifted, and more opportunities were given to the private sector. Today, the Maldives has a thriving tourism industry and agriculture and manufacturing play a smaller role than in the past.
The Maldivian people are expert craftsmen and make beautiful products such as lacquer-dyed woven mats, wood carvings and sand-colored decorative tassels. The islands are renowned for their spectacular beaches, with some of the most breathtaking views in the world. The Maldives is also a well-known diving destination, with some of the best coral reefs in the world and some of the most luxurious resorts and spas around.