Southwest of Sri Lanka, on the equator.
1,190 coral islands, forming an archipelago of 26 major atolls. Stretches 820 kilometres north to south and 120 kilometres east to west. 202 are inhabited, 87 are exclusive resort islands.
Generally warm and humid. Sun shines all year through. Average temperature around 29 – 32 degrees Celsius.
What to wear
Dress is generally casual. T-shirts and cotton clothing are most suitable. In Male’, the capital island and other inhabited islands it is recommended that women wear modest clothing without baring too much.
About 270,000 according to 1998 estimates. Origin of the Maldivians are lost in antiquity, but history reveals that the islands have been populated for over 3,000 years ago. Early settlers were travellers on the Silk Route and from the Indus Valley Civilisation. Inherently warm, friendly and hospitable by nature, it is easy to feel comfortable and relaxed with a Maldivian.
A proud history and rich culture evolved from the first settlers who were from various parts of the world travelling the seas in ancient times. The Maldives has been a melting pot of different cultures as people from different parts of the world came here and settled down. Some of the local music and dance for instance resemble African influences, with handbeating of drums and songs in a language that is not known to any but certainly represents that of East African countries. As one would expect there is a great South Asian influence in some of the music and dancing and especially in the traditional food of the Maldivians. However many of the South Asian customs especially with regard to women – for instance the Sub Continent’s tradition of secluding women from public view – are not tenets of life here. In fact women play a major role in society – not surprising considering the fact men spend the whole day out at sea fishing. Many of the traditions are strongly related to the seas and the fact that life is dependent on the seas around us.
Dhivehi is the language spoken in all parts of the Maldives. English is widely spoken by Maldivians and visitors can easily make themselves understood getting around the capital island. In the resorts, a variety of languages are spoken by the staff including English, German, French, Italian and Japanese.
The Maldives economy has been growing at an annual average of 10% for the past two decades. Tourism is the main industry, contributing close to 20% of the GDP. Fisheries and trade follow close behind. The Maldivian economy is regarded as exemplary in the region and welcomes foreign investment.
The Maldivian currency is the Rufiyaa and Laaree. The exchange rate for US Dollar at the time of writing is MRf.11.82 for the dollar. One Rufiyaa is equivalent to 100 laarees. Rufiyaa bank notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500. Coins are in the denominations of MRf.2.00, MRf.1.00, 50 laarees, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 laaree. The US Dollar is the most commonly used foreign currency. Payments in the resorts and hotels can be made in most hard currency in cash, travellers’ cheques or credit cards. Commonly used credit cards are American Express, Visa, Master Card, Diners Club, JCB and Euro Card.
The functional literacy rate is 98%. Educational standards are among the highest in the region and schools follow the British system of education.
Health care facilities are improving almost on a daily basis. The Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’ is the biggest hospital in the country providing sophisticated medical care. ADK Hospital is the biggest private health care facility and follows high medical standards. Some resorts have in-house doctors. A decompression chamber is within easy reach of most resorts in case of a diving emergency.
GMT + 5 hours
From Sunday to Thursday 7.30 – 14.30 in the government sector and generally from 9.00 to 5.00 in the private sector, although most offices in the private sector open for a half day on Saturday. Weekend falls on Friday and Saturday.
Up-to-date technology and international satellite links allow Maldives to have a sophisticated communications system. IDD facilities are available on all resorts and card phones are available on all inhabited islands. Dhiraagu, the Maldives Telecommunications Company also provides mobile telephones for daily rental. It is also the Internet service provider.
The electric system is 230-240 Volts -AC.
Bodu Beru is the most popular form of music and dance in the country, enjoyed by the young and the old, men and women. There is a Bodu Beru troupe in almost every inhabited island and is regularly played at special functions and festivalss.
The musical instruments used in Bodu Beru consist of three or four drums and a variety of percussion instruments. The drums are made from hollowed coconut wood and covered on both ends with manta ray skin or goat hide. A lead singer chants the lyrics and a chorus of 10 to 15 follows as they clap to the beat of the drums. The rhythm build as the song continues until it reaches a frenzied crescendo.
As the rhythm picks up, dancers come out from amongst the troupe swaying to the rhythm. As the beat becomes faster the dancers leap and jerk to the beat as if in a trance. Onlookers join in the clapping and dancing. Old men, suddenly catch a stray rhythm and throw themselves into the arena.
To wild applause from the crowd they gyrate and grimace in their dance, passing on to the young what they have learnt from their forefathers. According to some historians Bodu Beru was introduced to the country in the early 19th century by African slaves. During the reign of Mueenuddeen I these slaves were liberated and sent to Feridhoo in Ari Atoll. It is believed that bodu beru spread out from there to become one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the country
Thaara also holds a special place in local entertainment. Two lines of men attired in white sit on the ground and sing beating hand drums while others dance between them. Thaara is believed to have been introduced from the Middle East in the seventeenth century. Today Thaara is only played at national events.
Dhandijehun is another form of entertainment, which is popular throughout the country. This is mostly performed to celebrate festive events such as Eid and other national occasions.
Bandiyaa Jehun is a more popular form of dance performed by young women. The women carrying metal water pots stand in two lines facing each. They sing and dance to melodious tunes while taping the rhythm on the pots with rings worn on the fingers.
Although western pop and Indian music is quite popular today, traditional forms of music and song that have been passed down to us by our ancestors survive. Raivaru, farihi and bandhi are all unique styles of singing that are still practiced by people around the country.
Everest Base Camp
$ 1399/INR 69999/-PP
$ 1399/INR 69999/-PP
Central Tibet Tour
$ 999/INR 49000/-PP
Namsto & EBC
$ 1499/INR 99999/-PP
$ 2999/INR 165000/-PP
8 Days Ex.Lucknow
$ 2499/INR 149000/-PP
Best of Bhutan
$ 1799 / INR24555/-PP
Part Druk Path Trek
$ 1999/INR 59999/-PP
$ 499/INR 13999/-PP
Sikkim & Darjeeling
$ 1199/INR 29999/-PP
$ 399/INR 11999/-PP
Best of Bali
$ 299/INR 9999/-PP