Known for its beautiful tropical beaches, the Maldives is a stunning archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Its unique history has brought together people from across the world, who have shaped its rich culture with their own traditions.
The Maldives’ unique cultural melting pot of Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Middle Eastern and African influences is best witnessed when visiting the islands. Often overlooked as a beach destination, the Maldivian culture is a fascinating mix of South Asian cuisine and traditional music and dance.
Fish is the main staple in Maldivian cooking, with tuna a key ingredient throughout the menu. From traditional fish broth to savouries and snacks, you’ll find dishes that are both spicy and delicious.
Other popular dishes include Gulha – small fish balls stuffed with coconut and tuna; Bajiya – crunchy, golden samosas stuffed with smoked tuna onion mixture; Mushimas – fried scads seasoned, deep-fried and eaten as a whole; Rihaakuru Folhi – rihaakuru pancake; Dhonkeyo Kajuru – sweet banana fritters; and Theluli Mas – spicy fried fish.
You’ll find plenty of restaurants serving local dishes in Male and at many inhabited island resorts. A great way to try the local foods is to arrange a day trip to a nearby village island.
Politically, the Maldives is a presidential democracy governed by a president and a unicameral parliament. The president is elected for five years by direct national vote and is head of state and head of government.
The country is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, with its own constitution and legal system based on sharia (Islamic law). Its history has seen various wars and upheavals, including a devastating earthquake in 2004, which left many islands buried under sand and destroyed homes and infrastructure.