Facts About the Maldives
March 20 2019
March 20 2019
The Maldives is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world and with picture-perfect tropical surrounds, sublime beaches, stunning year-round weather, exclusive island resorts and inviting, warm waters that are home to a wealth of vibrant marine life, it’s not difficult to see why. And the best part is that this sensational and phenomenally unique destination offers so much more than meets the eye.
If you have your sights set on this gorgeous holiday destination, then here are some fascinating facts about the Maldives:
The Maldives is geographically unique
The Maldives, which is officially known as the Republic of the Maldives, is a South Asian island nation located to the southwest of India and Sri Lanka. It’s a fascinating country which is actually an archipelago made up of some 1192 low-lying islands, naturally grouped into 26 atolls, with around 200 of them being inhabited (and 80 or so being exclusive resort islands). Spread from north to south, these islands span over a 90 000 square kilometre area in the sparkling Indian Ocean, making it one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries. The 26 atolls that make up the Maldives consist of sandbars and thriving coral reefs, and interestingly, the Maldives technically consists of 99% water.
Many beaches around the world have sand made up from quartz, but the powder-fine white sandy shores of the Maldives are actually made from corals. These coralline beaches are actually quite rare and only make up around 5% of the world’s beaches.
Largely due to its geographic location near the equator, the Maldives enjoys exceptionally warm temperatures practically throughout the year, with two seasons impacted by monsoons, the main difference being that one is wet and the other dry.
The Maldives was said to be established by an exiled prince
For an incredibly long time, the Maldives has boasted an important location near vital trade routes. It was said that the first colonisers of the Maldives were from India around 269 BC. They were said to be peace-loving people, with no formal government structure of any kind who instead worshipped the sun and the water. The first ruler was said to be the prince of Kalinga in India. The king had sent his son to Dheeva Maari (the name of the Maldives at the time) as he was displeased with him. But the prince, Sri Soorudasaruna Adeettiya, established the Adeetta Dynasty, or the Solar Dynasty, in the Maldives. It is said that this era ended when a Solar Dynasty queen married a prince of Kalinga’s Lunar Dynasty. What we understand about the early days of the Maldives is, however, said to be part legend and part history.
It’s the lowest and flattest nation in the world
The gorgeous, lush coral islands in the Maldives have an average ground-level elevation of 1.5 metres above sea level, which makes it the lowest country in the world. Interestingly, it’s also the flattest country in the world, the smallest country in Asia (in both population and land area) and the smallest Muslim nation in the world.
Given its low-lying position, drastic climate change and rising sea levels are seen as huge risks to the Maldives, and in 2009, the Maldivian government held a cabinet meeting underwater (the first of its kind), to emphasise the threat of global warming to the nation.
Alcohol is technically illegal
The Maldives is a Muslim nation, and like many other countries which practice Islam, alcohol is illegal...but an exception to this rule has been made for the resort islands and hotels which have been given special liquor licences. Guests can neither bring alcohol to the resorts in the Maldives or take it away from them - this is strictly prohibited. It can only be consumed at the main bars of select hotels and resort islands. There are a number of other very important local laws, customs and regulations that guests need to follow when visiting the Maldives.
The underwater world is something to behold
One of the biggest drawcards of the Maldives is its sublime natural surrounds, gorgeous beaches and tropical waters which teem with an abundance of marine life. Thanks to the plethora of coral reefs and the gorgeous sea creatures that frequent them, the Maldives has become a top diving destination. In the tropical Indian Ocean waters of the Maldives, divers can spot anything from mantas, whale sharks and hammerheads to turtles, dolphins, whales, eagle rays, Napoleon wrasse, reef sharks and many other sea creatures. The gorgeous, artistic corals that pop with vibrant colours themselves are something to behold as well—the underwater playground in the Maldives is simply outstanding.
It’s said to be one of the safest destinations in the world
While the capital city, Malé, one of the world’s densest cities (if not the densest city), has some occurrences of petty crime, the Maldives in general, which boasts a population of around 373 522 people (which has an outstanding 98% literacy rate), is said to be one of the safest destinations in the world. The islands, while isolated, are well protected and deemed very safe which makes for a carefree holiday in paradise.
Coral was once widely used to build the houses and structures in the Maldives
Long before the world’s corals were under threat, the Maldivians used them to build their houses and important structures, such as the Malé Friday Mosque (or the Malé Hukuru Miskiy), which is said to date back to 1656, making it the oldest mosque in the Maldives. This mosque has been carefully and beautifully built, complete with intricate coral details and verses from the Quran. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.
Because the coral reefs are protected today, the use of coral for building is now prohibited, but many coral houses and structures still exist in the Maldives.
Weekends differ slightly in the Maldives
The business days and hours in the Maldives may differ slightly from those in your home country. Weekdays are from Sunday to Thursday with the weekend being Friday and Saturday. Shops generally open after 9 am, close for prayer in the afternoon and evenings and sometimes close as late as 10 pm.
It’s a truly unique destination
The Maldives is a wonderfully unusual holiday destination. For one, they have a unique language, called Dhivehi. Their currency, known as the Maldivian rufiyaa, is equally unique to the Maldives, although American dollars are widely accepted.
Their national ‘items’ are also novel. For example, their national tree is the coconut palm, their national bird is the white-breasted waterhen, their national animal the yellow-fin tuna and the national flower the Finifenmaa (or Pink Rose).
Traditional Maldivian cuisine centres largely on fresh fish, coconuts and starches, such as rice. The national dish of the Maldives, Garudhiya, is a clear fish broth, made using tuna. The country itself thrives on the fishing and tourism industries, the latter of which has rebounded greatly since the tsunami in 2004.
The facts about the Maldives simply make it a more intriguing place to visit, and with a range of international flight options, minimum health requirements and generally hassle-free travel permits, not to mention its breathtaking beauty, it’s an excellent choice for sun-loving adventurers.