Explore Maldives

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.

Quick Facts

Maldives has deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches and palm trees. It is also a place full of character, where its people have long spent their days languishing in the very essence of idyll living.

While it is the perfect place to sit on a beach and watch a sunset with a cocktail balanced on your hand, it is also a geographical marvel, knowing that there are thousands of fish swimming around the vivid corals just a few feet away from where you sit.

Time
GMT+5 Hrs
Capital island
Male'
Total islands
1,190
Inhabited islands
200
Major industries
Tourism and Fishing
Population
Approx. 350,000
Currency
Rufiyaa (USD 1 = MRF 15.42)
Electricity
220-240V AC
Resort islands
99
Government Working hours
8:00 am to 4:00 pm Sunday to Thursday
Bank hours
9:00am to 03:00 pm Sunday to Thursdays

Capital Island

In spite of the majority of the Maldives entire population being concentrated in male’, it is kept spotlessly clean and is hygienic. In the urban capital the tradition of sweeping the roads in the morning is followed even now. The setting of the island has caught the imagination of several visitors including Thor Hyerdal because of its unsoiled semi urban environs made up of historical sites and a museum full of distinctive ancient Maldivian artifacts.

Shopping

For shopping, Male’ is considered as the busiest spots, with variety of goods and choices it offers at the center. Cigarettes, imported and local handicrafts, souvenirs, electronic goods and the like are sold here. With minimum duty charged the prices of these goods are competitive. Shops selling souvenirs are just a five minute walk from the jetty. Window shopping at few shops before buying something is an excellent idea. You need not always go buy what the guides or the shop assistants recommend though.

High quality electronic and electric goods like cameras, hi-fi stereo equipment and the like are best shopped for at Male International Airport Duty Free Shops.

A visit to Male’

The capital city of Maldives Male’ which was known as the sultan’s island in the past is the seat of government, commercial center and also the location of several important religious and historical landmarks. It is busiest and most populated island of the archipelago with a population of nearly one hundred thousand in an area of 1.77 sq km.

Masjid-al Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu-al-A’z’am, the grand Friday mosque is the largest mosque of the island. An Islamic center is located here too. With its domineering golden dome the grand mosque decorates the fascia of Male’. Over 5000 worshippers can pray at a time here. This magnificent landmark is visited by almost all the tourists.

With its tombs of the members of royalty and national heroes and the unique minaret the old Friday mosque gives a sneak peek into the past to the visitors. In the royal blue ground and the mosque the art is invaluable and unique.

Tombs of legendary saints Mulee-aage, the old presidential palace, the recently built presidential palace and the national museum in the sultan park showcasing the past glories are all within a ten minute walking distance are the other important sites to see in Male’.

The firewood market and the vegetable and fruit market are the other busy and colorful places that are trading centers for the locals of other islands. Nearby there is a fish market which remains spotlessly clean except during the trading hours in the late afternoon when the day’s catch is usually traded. The process of cutting and cleaning of fish has been rendered to be an art here. A visit to this clean and well maintained market place generates an interest among the visitors and gives a glimpse into the life of the archetypical fisher folk of the Maldives.


History

Maldives is a country that has a very rich culture and an equally interesting history. Anyone who loves to read and has an ear for stories would love to sit down and hear about the myths that shroud the history of this island country. Maldivians themselves tell these stories and talk about legends with a lot of gusto.

One such story is the tale of the Rannamaari. It is a tale of a ferocious and fearsome sea monster that terrified the people of this island and demanded a virgin sacrifice every month. A brave man Abdul Barakaath-Ul Barbary stood up to the monster and relieved the people of its terror by banishing it from the seas forever. Then there is the story of Bodu Thakurufaanu, who saved the people of Maldives from a Portuguese invasion.

Although these stories are a part of the popular folklore, they are based on some true events. Even anecdotes are inspired by real life experiences. If we delve into the colourful history of this island country, we will find that the people of Maldives have always been known to travel far,wide and are famous for their sense of adventure. Even today, Maldives has not lost the charm of its earlier days. It remains very much like it was then – small and isolated, yet the one place coveted by the entire world. Its stunning sea views and breezy beach fronts are always an attraction to tourists. That is why it still remains as a favourite tourist destination for people to get indulged in this exotic island.

If we make a timeline for the history of this archipelago, it would look something like this.

1500 BC Archeologists believe that Maldives was inhabited as early as 1500 BC
543 to 483 BC The Simhalese arrive in Maldives led by the exiled Magadha prince Vijaya
300 BC The first settlers, believed to be Dravidians, immigrated to Maldives
581 to 681 AD Population reaches 10000
1099 AD Several foreign travelers, mainly Arabs, had written about a kingdom over the Maldives ruled by a queen
1153 Maldives converts to Islam
1558 The Portuguese invade the Maldives
1573 Mohamed Thakurufaanu liberates the Maldives from the Portuguese
1887 Protectorate signed with Great Britain
1932 The first Constitution of the Republic of Maldives enacted
1953 The first Republic period begins with Mohamed Ameen as President
1954 End of the first Republic period as Ameen was ousted; the Maldives reverts to Sultanate with Mohamed Fareed as ruler.
1965 Independence from the British
1968 End of the Sultanate; second Republic period begins with Ibrahim Nasir as President
1972 The first island resort is developed; tourists begin arriving to the Maldives

In addition to this, there are many stunning resorts and fun filled water activities which will always keep people busy. When you step into this spectacular island you will never have the mind to get back home as you will be encouraged to stay longer.

Climate / Weather

The weather in the Maldives is usually picture perfect: sunlit days, breezy nights, balmy mornings, and iridescent sunsets. The temperature hardly ever changes - which makes packing for your holiday an easy task (see what to pack). With the average temperature at about 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year, the sun is a constant on most days, shining through treetops, creating lacy patterns on your feet, healing cold-bones with its warmth. Throughout the day, the sun will make itself known, ensuring that it will be remembered and missed, like an old friend, as you pack up your suitcases to leave.

Maldives has two distinct seasons; dry season (northeast monsoon) and wet season (southwest monsoon), with the former extending from January to March and the latter from mid-May to November.

The rare thunderstorm in the Maldives (especially around the southwest monsoon months) can be a welcome respite from the sun. Cloudy skies and slate grey seas, and crashing thunder makes up for lovely reading weather. The warm temperatures will allow you to go for a walk in the rain, a verdant, wet, thoroughly enjoyable experience. For extra exhilaration, take a swim in the rain - the sea will be extra warm.

For more information about weather in the Maldives: www.meteorology.gov.mv

Maldives Airports

Velana International Airport

Velana International Airport

Velana International Airport (IATA: MLE, ICAO: VRMM), also known as Malé International Airport, previously known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, is the main international airport in the Maldives. It is located on Hulhulé Island in the North Malé Atoll, nearby the capital island Malé.

Today, Velana International Airport is well connected with major airports around the world, mostly serving as the main gateway into theMaldives for tourists. It is managed financially and administratively by an independent corporate entity known as Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL).


Gan International Airport

Gan International Airport

Gan International Airport (IATA: GAN, ICAO: VRMG) is located on the island of Gan in Addu Atoll (previously known as Seenu Atoll) in the Maldives.

First built by the Royal Navy, and transferred to the Royal Air Force as RAF Gan, it was a military airbase used during World War IIand until 1976. The British handed it over to the government and it was used as a domestic airport. Recently the airport has been upgraded to international standards in preparation for international flights with the opening of tourist resorts in the area.

Gan International Airport (GIA) serves as a key tourism gateway to the Republic of Maldives and its luxury beach resorts and dive sites. GIA is situated at the southern tip of the country, and allows international and domestic aircraft movements year-round.


Hanimaadhoo International Airport

Hanimaadhoo International Airport (IATA: HAQ, ICAO: VRMH) is an airport located on the island of Hanimaadhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, Maldives, opened as a domestic airport. It was upgraded to an international airport on 2 February 2012, with the introduction of direct flights to Trivandrum by Maldivian.


Villa Domestic Airport

Villa Domestic Airport (IATA: VAM, ICAO: VRMV), also known as Maamigili Airport, is located on the island of Maamigili in Alif Dhaal Atoll (also known as Ari Atholhu Dhekunuburi) in the Maldives and was opened on October 1, 2011 as a domestic airport. It was upgraded to an international airport on March 1, 2013 and on August 26, 2014 Government have downgraded Villa international to Villa Domestic Airport.