The natural tunes of waves and breezy winds carry in the magical rhythms that pulsate through the islands. These are complemented by the local music and dance which play an important role in the lives of Maldivians as a form of celebration, relaxation and entertainment.

The Maldives is a melting pot of diverse cultures. Certain traditions resemble African influences whilst others are reflective of East Asian and South Asian heritage. Sunni Islam is the state religion although there are small pockets of Buddhist peoples.

Dhivehi is the native language spoken by most inhabitants. It has a distinct script called Thaana which was developed from Arabic alphabets, written right to left. This unique language has been influenced by India, Sri Lanka, Arabia and other parts of Asia.

Food is a huge part of the Maldivian culture and most cuisines have been influenced by neighbouring countries. Spicy curries, fish soups and fried snacks are the staples of Maldivian meals.

One must try a Maldivian dish known as Garudhiya, which is a fish broth served with rice and topped with theluli mas (crushed chillies covered in lime and coconut). Banbukeylu harissa is another delicious local curry that is made from breadfruit. This is steamed and then mashed and mixed with chillies, ginger, curry leaves, onion and coconut milk.

Most Maldivians do not eat out at resorts or restaurants and instead enjoy their traditional foods in their homes and at local cafes and teashops. A popular snack is raa, a toddy tapped from palm trees and left to ferment – the closest most Maldivians get to alcohol.

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