The Maldives is a tropical paradise with white sandy beaches and clear blue waters, but it has a lot more to offer than just its natural beauty. A number of interesting traditions are still followed here, thanks to the fact that the first settlers were seafarers who traveled widely across the oceans. This is evident in the rhythmic beating of drums (known as boduberu) and some of the songs that feature African influences. Also, matt-weaving and lacquer-work are traditional art forms that are still practiced here.
The official language is Dhivehi, which has Indo-Iranian and Sanskrit origins. It is written from right to left, similar to Arabic. It is spoken by over half of the population. The main economy in the Maldives is tourism, which brings in almost all foreign currency and generates 90% of government tax revenue. Its second biggest industry is fishing, with tuna being the primary species caught and exported. Fishing is a family affair and men spend the whole day out at the sea, returning to their island in the evening where they cook and serve a meal for the whole family.
Besides fish, locals also eat a variety of fruits and vegetables from home gardens, although rice and flour are often imported. Vegetarian dishes are very common, and people usually drink tea with milk and sugar. A popular alcoholic beverage is raa, which is served in a coconut or in an elongated pipe called guduguda, and is smoked during special ceremonial occasions.