The Maldives has a unique culture that is shaped by the many influences that have come to the islands from different parts of the world over centuries. The earliest settlers were probably from southern India and later came Indo-European speakers as well as sailors from East Africa and Arab countries. Muslims became the majority in the 12th century. The fusion of these cultures can still be seen today in the music and dancing, with a strong South Asian influence, but also in the cuisine which includes fish, spicy curries and ‘roshi’ (thin flatbread). Maldivian women enjoy a highly respected position within society and are encouraged to keep their maiden names after marriage.

As a tropical destination it is important to know the weather patterns here so you can plan your vacation accordingly. The dry season runs from December to March and this is when the resorts will be busiest and prices are a little higher. The rainy season is between June and November but unless you are looking for a very low-cost holiday this should not deter you as the rainfall is usually quite minimal and the weather warm and sunny.

Football is the most popular sport in Maldives and you will see a lot of young boys and men playing the game at various venues around the country. Other sports that are played include tennis, volleyball and badminton. The local food is very delicious and you will find a range of fast foods, including Gulha – small round fish balls stuffed with tuna and coconut, Bajiya – crunchy golden samosas filled with smoked tuna onion mixture and Mushimas – fried scads seasoned and deep-fried. It is also worth trying the coconut water which is a favourite drink of the locals, drunk straight from the coconut.

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