Maldives History

Maldives - a collection of about 1900 islands in the Indian Ocean was at first inhabited by immigrants from South India and Sri Lanka. 12th century AD saw the arrival of sailors from Arabian countries and from East Africa. Traces of their influence on these islands can still be seen in the language and culture of the natives of Maldives. The linguistic and cultural aspect of Maldives has evolved through the generations and basically is influenced by the many races that visited and stayed in Maldives.

According to the Maldivian legend, the sultanate in Maldives started with the arrival of a Sinhalese prince, who got stranded in a Lagoon with his bride - the daughter of the Sri Lankan King. The prince stayed on to rule as the first sultan of Maldives and from then onwards Maldives was ruled by Sultans and in some occasions by Sultanas i.e. their Queens.

The sailors from the countries in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean were regular visitors to Maldives and had a big influence on the natives of the land. Attracted by the abundance of the cowry shells, coir rope and ambergris the Portuguese decided to conquer Maldives. They ruled over the islands from 1558 to 1573 when they were ultimately thrown out by the warrior-patriot, Muhammad Thakurufar Al-Azam. Muhammad Thakurufar was offered the throne and to this date he is spoken about with respect and reverence and is considered a National Hero.

For the major part of its history, Maldives has been an independent Sultanate with first the Portuguese and then the British ruling it for a small while. Maldives was a British Protectorate from 1887 till July 1965, after which a republican Form of Government was attempted to be established in Maldives. But the endeavor failed and Sultanate was established once more.

It is widely believed that the early settlers followed Hinduism. Buddhism was the main religion followed until 1153. A scholar converted the king to Islam, and since then the whole country of Maldives has been practicing Islam. Who the Scholar was is still a question with many answers but nothing definite.

The islands of Maldives prospered after the advent of Islam leading to a glorious past. Monarchy was discarded and Maldives became a republic in 1953. Mr Mohammed Amin Didi, the introducer of the Republic System of Government in Maldives became the first President. But, the republic did not survive and a Sultanate was reinstated till 1968. The sultanate was abolished forever to be replaced by a Republic on November 11, 1968. The republic continues till the present date with its present name. Through all these Maldives has never lost its identity as a secluded haven for tourists and natives alike.

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