In the midst of the Indian Ocean lies scattered the islands of Maldives portraying the tropical delight. The visitors who travel to Maldives are lured by the pristine beaches, warm waters, and blue lagoons and so on now and even in the past. It was called as the flower of the Indies by Marco Polo and it was considered a wonder of the world by Ibn Batuta. The awesome islands consist of 26 atolls which are spread in an expanse of one million sq km. Atoll is the translation of Atholhu from the Maldivian language.
Lucid but not so deep lagoons together with the coral reefs surround this group of islands. Spectacular views of the underwater life not found anywhere in the world can be beheld from the islands. Thick tropical flora covers the tiny pieces of land created on the peaks that emerge from the ocean depths where the remains of the marine life forms and layers of corals are deposited. For nature attributes on the island, one can find the lofty soaring coconut trees amidst various shrubs and plants. These protect the shoreline from getting eroded. All this and more add to the magnificence and splendor of the islands.
The islands are embodiment of the living beings which are found in different stages of their formation. It is a good example of the eco system where in the birds, marine forms and fish co exists along with the humans forming a food chain in and about Maldives. Humans being at summit can be considered as the caretakers. Their neighbor India and Sri Lanka measures 120 km from east to west and 820 km from north to south at its maximum width. According to the 1997 estimate about 263189 humans inhabit about 200 islands of this large archipelago.
About 88 other islands are developed as Maldives travel destinations exclusively having separate resorts set up which promotes Maldives tourism. Ancient history of the origins of the islanders is not found as of today. Only archeological and historic records are available now. According to that the island had been inhabited for more than 5000 years. Clues about this island being a part of the vital trade route have been found. Indication as to people from different parts of the globe having settled here too has been found. As seen from the physical features of the area and also from the point of view of evidence of migration in history it can be said that the Maldivians are primarily Dravidian or Aryan in origin. In fact the truth of their origin lies shrouded in mystery.
Dhivehi an indo Iranian language which has an intense Arabic influence is spoken throughout the expanse of Maldives. English is vastly used in the government sector and commercial circles as a second language along with this official language that is written from right to left. People going on a Maldives tour may use other foreign languages. Other than a short period in the sixteenth century when it was under Portuguese rule for about 15 years it has remained an independent country. From 1887 till attaining full sovereignty in 1965 it was a British protectorate. From 1968 November 11 it became a republic from a sultanate.