The Maldives is a nation of islands in the Indian Ocean that spans across the equator. The country is comprised of 1192 islands that stretch along a length of 871 kilometers. While the country covers an area of approximately 90,000 square kilometers, only 298 square kilometers of that is dry land. The islands are grouped into a double chain of 26 atolls.
The country’s unique geography mesmerizes the visitor. Reefs that offer bands of color, tiny jewel-like islands rimmed with the whitest of soft sand surrounded by the clearest shallow waters that one can imagine. Only 200 of the islands are inhabited, and a select few on each of the atolls are resorts and some of the islands are used for industry and agriculture.
The beauty of the Maldives is not only above the water. The Maldives is home to about five percent of the planet’s reefs that comes with an explosion of color contributed by soft and hard corals that form them. The reefs are home to a thousand species of fish. Lured by the rich nutrients that flow in with the currents, large pelagic fishes such as manta rays and whale sharks also make the Maldives their home.
While very little is known about the ancient history of the Maldives scholars and historians believe that the Maldives is an old nation populated well over 2500 years ago. The Maldivian race is the result of several waves of settlement from various parts of the Indian subcontinent and thousands of years of interactions of people of different races and ethnicities that crisscrossed the Indian Ocean over several centuries. The country’s culture and traditions and the diverse physical traits of the people bear witness to the fact that the country was, due to its geographical location, a melting pot of people and cultures. The Maldivian language is Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan language with its origins in Sanskrit.
The most recent census in 2014 enumerated the population at 407,660 people. A third of the population lives in Male’, while the rest live in 200 island scattered across the length of the country.
The livelihood of Maldivians traditionally depended on the seas, fishery being the main source of sustenance. While fishery still contributes significantly to the economy in terms of employment and income, tourism is the main source of income for the Maldivian economy today.
Although home to just over half a million people the Maldives has its own unique culture and traditions. While heavily influenced by various cultures around the rim of the Indian Ocean, the Maldivian culture, craft and traditions have been shaped by the island environment and the seas that surround us.
Dhivehi is the language of the Maldivian people. Our current script, Thaana is unique and was developed from Arabic numerals around the 16th century. Maldivians are master boat builders. The traditional Maldivian boat, dhoni has been shaped over centuries, resulting in a craft that perfectly suits the various conditions of the seas. The traditional cuisine is heavily based on fish and coconut, with several dishes that have no parallels anywhere in the region.
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INTERNATIONAL TELEPHONE CODE
Prepaid SIM cards are available from two mobile service providers at the airport. The SIM cards can be used for local and international call and for data.
The Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR) is the local currency. All major credit cards are accepted in the country.
All nationalities receive a 30-day visa on arrival, provided that you have a valid passport, an onward to ticket to continue your journey and a reservation at a tourist facility or enough funds to cover your stay in the country.
A Tourism Goods and Service Tax (TGST) of 12% is levied on all goods and services at tourist establishments. A Green Tax of US$ 6.00 per person per day is payable for guests staying at tourist accommodation except guest houses where the Green Tax is US$ 3.00 per person per day.
TRAVEL AND TRANSFER
Speedboat transfer is the norm to resorts close to the International Airport. The rest is covered by seaplane or domestic flight. If you are travelling to Male’ you can take a taxi from the airport. Several daily flights operate from Velana International Airport to the 12 domestic and international airports in the country. Scheduled ferries also operate from Male’ to many of the atolls.
Import of alcohol by individuals is not permitted. However, alcohol is available at all the resorts.
Year-round temperature hot tropical climate. The average high temperature is 31.5 degree Celsius and the average low temperature is 26.4 degree Celsius. The Southwest monsoon from May to October brings rain and the Northeast monsoon from November to April is generally sunny.
Cotton clothes suits well with the hot tropical climate of the Maldives. Tourist are expected to respect local culture and dress modestly when visiting or staying on inhabited islands. Sandals are ideal, as you may often want to slip them off and go barefoot.
The main public hospital Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and private hospitals ADK and Treetop are located in Male’. Each Atoll has at least one hospital and most resorts have their own clinics and in-house doctors.