Maldives Culture and People

The culture of Maldives can be said to be a blend of the many cultures brought by the sea farers who settled in Maldives. This confluence of culture was further influenced by the British and the Portuguese during their rule. The Islamic religion has contributed to the further evolution of the culture of Maldives.


Among the smallest independent nations of the world, Maldives has a growing population of 349,106. Even though there are around 1190 islands in Maldives, only 202 islands are inhabited. Most of the population inhabits the capital island - Male'. The booming trade in Male' beckons those in search of new opportunities.


The main language spoken in Maldives is Dhivehi, a language believed to have its origin from Sanskrit. The language has evolved through the generations. Moreover, Islamic and British influence has led to the addition of more Arab and English words to its vocabulary.

The positioning of islands in a scattered manner leads to variation in the language and dialects in the islands. The vocabulary and pronunciation of the language differs from atoll to atoll.

Thana, the present Maldivian script was invented in the 16th century after the Portuguese were overthrown. The script has 24 letters and unlike other scripts, Thana is written from right to left. This was done because of the increased use of many Arabic words in the Dhivehi language.

Family life

In the traditional way of family life in Maldives, the men go out for fishing during the day while the women take care of the affairs at home. The men often spend whole days out at sea which leaves the women with the responsibility of taking care of all the affairs at home as well as at the community.

The community is close-knit and forms a safety net for any family going through a hard time. Like in India, extended families help look after the kids in addition to the parents.


Although, Buddhism was the main religion being followed in the bygone eras (i.e. before 1153), at present, Maldives is predominantly a Muslim nation. The conversion of Maldives from Buddhism to Islam occurred in 1153 when a scholar converted the king to Islam, and since then the whole country of Maldives has been practicing the Islamic religion. The scholar's identity is still shrouded in mystery with many clues but no definite outcome.

The Islamic calendar is followed for all main events and festivals in the Maldivian life. All the main Islamic festivals are followed here with great fervor, with the young and old all participating in the celebrations. Religious education is part of life for all and Islam is considered as a part of the school curriculum and taught with the same zeal as for other subjects.

Art and craft

The landmarks in Maldives speak volumes about the splendid architecture and craftsmanship in Maldives. Mosques, tombs, old cemeteries - all are filled with intricate carvings. Raw materials found locally are deftly carved and produced into lovely craft products.

Most of these crafting skills are passed down through the generations keeping alive the beauty of the intricate art. Verses from the Holy Quran are intricately carved out on the walls of the mosques. This art calligraphy is strongly connected with Islam and some of the best samples of this art can be found in the Islamic Center.

With the passing of time, some crafts have become obsolete while some have revived with the development of the Tourism industry. Awareness about the conservation of the environment has led to the decline in the sale of products made with Tortoise shells and black coral.

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Male’, Republic of Maldives

Tel No : (+960) 3312460 Fax No : (+960) 3318945

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