The Maldives is a tropical paradise that is known for its beautiful beaches and luxury resorts. However, if you take the time to visit a local island and meet the people who live here you’ll discover that this is also a very special place with its own culture. The Maldivians are a fascinating mix of Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Indian and Middle Eastern influences that have been combined into something uniquely Maldivian. You can experience this heady mixture for yourself by attending music and dance performances or sampling the local cuisine rather than just sticking to your resort’s menu.

The islands of the Maldives are dotted with coral reefs that provide shelter and food to a wide variety of marine life. The country’s second largest industry is fishing, and tuna is the most important species caught for both domestic consumption and export.

Islam is the state religion and the dress code for men and women is conservative, with the shoulders and legs covered. Alcohol is not served in hotels or inhabited islands and the customs officers at Male airport will seize any alcoholic beverages that you attempt to bring into the country. If you’re shopping for souvenirs on your holiday look out for the ‘Made in Maldives’ label and avoid buying imitation goods that are not genuine.

The sultanate was hereditary until the early 1940s when efforts were made to limit its absolute powers. The First Republic was established in 1953 under the short-lived presidency of Mohamed Amin Didi, who introduced a number of reforms.

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