The Maldives is a geological marvel strewn across the Indian Ocean at the Equator like an unforgettable strand of rare pearls. Lying at 4 degrees, 10 minutes north latitude and 73 degrees, 30 minutes east longitude, this island nation is comprised of 1,190 small coral islands grouped in 26 atolls that extend north to south for approximately 550 nautical miles.
The climate of Maldives is warm year round, determined by the monsoons. However, being on the equator, the monsoons are mild and not as defined as in neighboring countries. Of the two monsoons, the southwest monsoon from May to October brings some rain and wind. The northeast monsoon, from November to April, is the dry season with very little wind. The temperature varies little and range from 28°C to 32°C.
Monthly wind data of Hulhule Station for the year 2014 and 2015.
Passports and visas required: Visa required for up to 30 days; issued on arrival.
Credit Cards: Visa & MC accepted
Atms: Available in Male
Traveler Checks: No
Banking Hours: Sun. – Thurs. 7:30am to 2:30pm
No vaccinations are mandatory
Bottled water recommended; no alcoholic beverages available outside of resorts and safaris/yachts.
Pornography of any kind, idols of any religion, Pork, Narcotics, Alcohol, Dogs, Firearms and Spear guns cannot be brought to the country.
Topless bathing and nudity is strictly forbidden in the islands of the Maldives. Reasonably modest dresses such as t-shirts and shorts are appropriate to visit islands.
Public observance of any religion other than Islam is prohibited.
Tourism began in the Maldives due to an Italian travel enthusiast named Giorgio Corbin who travelled to Maldives in October, 1971 after getting to know about the country from Mr. Kerafa Ahmed Naseem who was working at the Maldives High Commission in Colombo. He returned to Italy and published articles about the Maldives. As a result in February 1972 the first group of tourists arrived in the Maldives. Kurumba and Bandos, in Male’ Atoll, were the first resorts to be opened.
Maldives has come a long way since then-once an undiscovered tropical paradise is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. At present there are over a hundred resorts in the Maldives. From high class luxury to simplicity and affordability, Maldives has it all. Almost all the resorts have a range of facilities and activities including water sports, diving, spa, restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, bar, gym, kids club, pool, tennis court, etc.
Over the years the industry has evolved immensely. Maldives was once considered as an expensive tourist destination. However, over past decade or so the image has shifted. Today tourists have a range of affordable accommodation options which include resorts, liveaboards, guest houses, hotels, etc.
Along with the fast-growing guest-house sector, liveaboard sector is also developing. Currently there are close to 90 liveaboards in the Maldives.
It is difficult or impossible to state with certainty the exact origin of the earliest settlers in Maldives. However, studies indicate that the rich heritage of Maldives traces back to 300 BC. It is believed that the first settlers were most likely fishermen from the southwest coasts of, what is now the south of the Indian Subcontinent, and the western shores of Sri Lanka.
Historically, Maldives was an important island chain due to its location along the ancient marine trade routes. Traders from the Middle East, India, Sri Lanka and Africa visited Maldives. These visitors contributed greatly to the Maldivian culture and language. Legend has it that Maldives was converted from Buddhism to Islam in the year 1153 AD by a Muslim from North Africa, as a result of the Arab domination of trade in the Indian Ocean at that time.
After the 16th century European colonial powers such as the Portuguese, Dutch and the French meddled with local politics of Maldives. However these interferences ended when Maldives became a British Protectorate in 1887. The British pledged to protect Maldives from any foreign aggression while Maldives in turn agreed not to collaborate with any other foreign power without British consent. The British were also not to interfere with the internal affairs of the Maldives.
In 1953 the Maldives changed from a monarchy to a republic with Mohamed Amin Didi becoming the first President of Maldives. The first republic was a short-lived one. President Mohamed Amin Didi was overthrown and Maldives returned to being a monarchy and remained one until 1968 – about two years after gaining independence from the British. In 2015 Maldives marked its golden jubilee of independence.
Since gaining independence Maldives’ road to development took up pace, especially with the introduction of tourism in 1970s.
Tourism, Maldives’ largest economic activity, accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second leading export sector. Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play a lesser role in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labor. Most staple foods must be imported.