The population of Maldives has boomed during the last few decades. Its population of 328,536 (2012) inhabits 192 of its 1,192 islands. In 2006, Maldives’ capital and largest city Malé, located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll, had a population of 103,693 the other largest communities reside in Hithadhoo in Addu Atoll, Fuamulah and Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaalu Atoll respectively. The rest is dispersed sparsely across the rest of the 200 inhabited islands.
Maldives still remains as one of the smallest independent nations in Asia.
Maldivian women have always played a prominent role in society. Some of the most dominant rulers recorded in early history are Sultanas and it has been suggested that the society was once a matriarchy.
Early Maldivian women played an important role in building the economy of the country through farming and other primary economic activities.
In today’s society women play an important role in the family and hold strong positions in government and business. Women are given equal opportunities in education and employment. They are encouraged to pursue careers which contribute to the fact that a large percentage of government employees are women. Women also serve in the cabinet and the Parliament.
Madivians share a mixture of features with other races. Though people from the same region may closely resemble each other in features and mannerism, people of another atoll might carry a totally unique set of features. This interesting fact is tied to the history and the geographical location of the Maldives.
The history regarding the earliest settlers still remains unclear. However, since the predominant religion in the Maldives was Buddhism before the conversion to Islam in 1153 AD, taken together with ancient folklore, this points very strongly to an Aryan migration from the north, most probably from the ancient civilizations of Mohenjodaro and Harappa, around 500 BC.
This fact has led historians to believe that the people of the Maldives are Aryans from the northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent.
The people communicate in the sole language of Dhivehi though dialectical variations exist across the atolls. Dhivehi language’s sentence structure, verb formations and conjugations has its root in Sanskrit. This is surprising as the languages of the Maldives’ immediate neighbors are predominantly Dravidian. Since the earliest religion practiced in Maldives was Buddhism, this establishes another link with the Sanskirit-derived language Sinhala, which is spoken by the Singhalese community in Sri Lanka, the languages of the other immediate neighbors being Tamil and Malayalam.
Due to the strategic location of the Maldives, it is situated right at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean. Travelers, who braved the seas from all around the world found their mid-journey despite the widely scattered islands of the Maldives. Some of these travelers stayed for short periods while others made the islands their home and never left, contributing to the society, the outlook of the people and inevitably to what would be described a gene pool today.