The people of Maldives reflect virtually every race in the world – not only from their features but also from customs and traditions handed down from generation to generation.
History reveals that Maldives has been populated for over 3,000 years and that the first settlers were from the neighbouring countries of Sri Lanka and Southern India. This conclusion is drawn from the archeological evidence that shows the existence Hinduism and Buddhism before the country embraced Islam in 1153 A.D.
However, some of the traditions and customs also reveal the influence of other countries such as Africa. For example the traditional music “Boduberu” with handclapping and chanting of songs closely relates to African music.
South Asia has also influenced Maldives tremendously, especially in the entertainment sector. Though this is so, some of their customs like demanding submissive roles from women are not of norm in the Maldives. On the contrary, women are empowered through education and equality in the society.
In the islands, women’s roles are more wide and important as the men are away most of the day fishing.
It is not only through their features that the people of Maldives reflect other societies, but also through their attire. As the climate is warm, most go about dressed casually in T-shirts and cotton clothing. Both imported garments and self-tailored ones can be seen. Most of the young and old alike go about in the latest styles, with traditional clothes favoured for special national events and celebrations. Women are given the liberty to dress as they please as long as they do not bare too much.
The language of the Maldivians is Dhivehi, though significant dialectical variations exist, especially in the southernmost atolls. Dhivehi has its roots in Sanskrit and comes under the Indro-Indian group of languages. With the advent of the Islam in 1153AD, Dhivehi became heavily influenced by Arabic and again in the 1960s with the introduction of English as a medium of education, English language also began to influence it.
Due to the geographical isolation of islands, the Dhivehi vocabulary and pronunciation vary from atoll to atoll, in some cases slightly while in other cases the difference is more noticeable.
The Maldivian script is known as ‘thaana’ which consists of 24 letters and is written from right to left. This writing system was invented during the 16th century soon after the country was liberated from Portuguese rule.
Since Maldives embraced Islam in 1153, Islam has been central to the life of Maldivians. The norms of Islam are observed by the Maldivians and the main events and festivals marked according to the Muslim Calendar. Children are taught to read Arabic so that they will be able to recite the Quran.
The people of Maldives are naturally warm, friendly and hospitable. Their peaceful and interesting company would put anyone at ease and make your stay here a memorable one.