The Maldivians
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The Maldivians

Fishermen and Traders

Fishermen and Traders

Today the Maldives presents a mixture of different cultures. It is tough to say who or when the first settlers came to the Maldives.

Archaeological finds indicate Maldives was inhabited as early as 1500 BC. In other myths and legends, first settlers are estimated to be Indo Aryan civilization. The first settlers were known as "dheyvis” and seems to come from “Kilabanja" in India. The Maldives has been occupied by populations who met here for trading affairs. In the past centuries the Portuguese, Dutch and British have all established governance, until 1965 when the islands obtained full political independence from the British government.


  • Region is Southern Asia

  • Climate here is Tropical

  • The challenge here is Casual

  • This trip has been rated 5 by other travelers



Fishing and trading local products (dry fish coconut, coconut fibre or core rope and ambergris) were the main activities until 1972 when the first resorts were built, and tourism became the principal Country’s economy. For many Maldivians fishing remains the principal occupation.


A traditional Maldivian village has a geometrical layout with broad streets inserted in a rectangular grid, sitting well back from the shores of the island.

Historically houses were made of coconut wood and leaves, while coral was only used to build essential constructions (tombs or mosques).

As a sign of status some homes were made of coral stones too, joined with mortar made from the burned coral paste.

This traditional construction method is now forbidden as coral is protected, but coral buildings are still evident in some islands.


Social Structure

The Maldives was a caste society well into the 1920s. Traditionally, a significant gap existed between the elite living on Male and the remainder of the population inhabiting the outer islands.

Male, the traditional seat of sultans and nobility, dominates the political and economic power.

The island communities outside Male are, in most cases, self-contained economic units.

Islanders are in many instances interrelated by marriage and form a small, tightly-knit group.


Sunni Islam: the practice of any other religion is forbidden by law.

In years gone, the islanders practised Buddhism and remnants of this can be found on some islands as well as some architecture report to Sheathi religion, that Indian traders tried to spread.


They used to follow Sufism traditions as celebrations of “dhikr” (remembrance) ceremonies.

They have a martial art called “hevikamuge hulhivaruthak” and a kind of wrestling known as “gulhamanthi hifun”.

A popular instrument is the Bodu Beru (Big Drum). Dance performances by groups of men using the drums and incorporating their beat known as Bodu Beru are said to have North-African roots.


The language of the Maldives is Dhivehi and includes a lot of dialects, almost one for each atoll. Dialects are similar in closed atolls but quite different from northern to southern ones.


Traditionally handicraft in the Maldives includes mat weaving, embroidery (kasabu boavalhu libaas), coir making and lacquer work. It is believed that each of these skills is confined to individual atolls or islands such as:

Gadhdhoo island in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll: is renowned for its fine hand-woven mats made of dried hau (rushes) used for prayer mats and as a decoration.

Thulaadhoo, in Baa Atoll: is renowned for the finest lacquer work to of wooden pots, boxes and vases of all shapes and sizes, displaying beautiful abstract patterns in red, black, and yellow.

Rin'budhoo in Dhaalu Atoll: famous for its goldsmiths

Hulhudeli in Dhaalu Atoll: well known for its silversmiths.


“Eid al-Fitr Eid al-Adha. Is known as two Eid, Kuda Eid (Small Eid) Bodu Eid (Big Eid) One celebrates the end of Ramadan and the other the pilgrimage of Hajj.

“Nasrunge Dhuvas" Victory day to mark the defeat of an attempted coup against the Maldives government.

“Qaumee Dhuvas” is Maldives national day, celebrating the defeat of the Portuguese by the sultan dynasty.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

Maldivian people used to be called not with their birth name. They carry the family or dynasty name so that it was easy for people to know from where they came. In Malik Atoll, they still use this practice today.

The Maldivian Islands are about 1220, but only 193 are home to its inhabitants, and 150 are resorts. Few islands are given to the agriculture industry. Approximately 800 islands are untouched natural beauties.

In the early ages, the Maldives were known by Arabian seafarers as "Money Isles" because they furnished considerable quantity of cowry shells which were used in the past as currency.

Climate global warming is seriously endangering these fragile atolls: the raising of sea-temperature has damaged or killed large areas of coral reefs and seems that all inhabited islands could flood before the end of this century.

Photo credit: Bandos island in Maldives

Photo credit: Fruit seller in Maldives

Photo credit: Maldivian Woman and girl

Photo credit: Fisherman and fresh fish tuna

Photo credit: Maldives traditional drum Temboonkiat

Photo credit: Maldives islands