The earliest inhabitants of the Maldives did not leave many archaeological remains. It is believed that their houses and tools were most likely made of wood and therefore quickly decayed from the salt and wind that is found in tropical climates. Any remains that have been found suggest that the islands were inhabited as early as 1500BC. The majority of historians agree that the first settlers were probably from southern India. These people brought the Buddhist faith with them and it lasted in the Maldives for around 1,400 years. This initial group of settlers were followed by people from Sri Lanka in the 5th and 4th centuries BC.
Maldives is located south of India and consists of two rows of atolls in the Indian Ocean, just across the equator. The atolls are made up of 1,190 coral islands. Each atoll is made up of a coral reef encircling a lagoon with deep channels. Within the reefs are various types of underwater creatures and beautiful, vibrant coral. The reefs also serve as protection against the wind and waves of the surrounding ocean.
Maldives is the smallest country in Asia in both physical size and population. The population of Maldives is 341,356, with people being spread around 200 inhabited islands. Approximately ninety of these islands have been developed as tourist resorts. Many of the other islands are used strictly for agriculture of for other natural resources purposes. The capital of Maldives is Malé which houses around one-third of the entire population. Malé serves as the centre of government, trade, commerce, business, health and education. The administration of Maldives is divided into nineteen different divisions.
The islands of Maldives are very low lying. There are no hills on the islands, only small dunes which reach approximately 2.4m (8 ft) above sea level, making Maldives the lowest country in the world. Although 99% of Maldives is made up of sea, the islands are too small to accommodate rivers. They do however have some small lakes and marshes, but that is not on every island.
Maldives - Country Quick-facts
Area: 298 sq km
Country Code: 960
Population Density: 1769.84 people per square kilometer
Currency: Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR), 1 USD = 12.85 MVR
Departure Tax: US$10.00
Drives on the: Left
Location: The Maldives stand in the Laccadive Sea, about 700 kilometre south-west of Sri Lanka (flying time is 45 minutes) and 400 kilometres south-west of India. You can easily access Male (the international airport) from India, Dubai, or Sri Lanka.
Official Language: Maldivian (Divehi) and English is widely spoken
Time Zone: GMT+5
Getting a Visa for Maldives
Tourist visa is granted for all nationalities on arrival to Maldives. As such, a foreigner travelling to Maldives as a tourist does not require pre-approval for the visa. However, the person must satisfy the basic entry requirements to get immigration clearance upon arrival.
The basic entry requirements are as follows;
1. A passport or a travel document with Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) with at least 6 months validity.
2. A pre-paid hotel booking/accommodation.
3. Sufficient funds to last for the intended period of stay in Maldives.
4. Confirmed onward/return tickets to home country or to country of residence (not applicable for valid resident permit holders).
5. Entry facilities to their onward destinations; for example, the visa.
6. Completed Disembarkation Card.
7. Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, if applicable.
Despite having two distinct seasons (wet and dry), the temperatures in Maldives rarely changes throughout the year. The average daily temperature is 30˚C (86˚F) making Maldives a true tropical paradise.
Although the humidity is relatively high, the constant sea breeze helps to keep the air moving. The average sea temperature is around 26˚C (79˚F). The dry season from December to April follows the Northeast monsoon season while the wet season from May to November follows the Southwest monsoon season. The wet season can experience torrential rains, however since Maldives is located on the equatorial belt, severe rainstorms are rare. Maldives experiences a great deal of sunshine, averaging at least 8 hours of sunshine each day.
Currency of Maldives
The Maldivian Rufiyaa is the currency of Maldives. Although as a tourist you really do not need to take much of any local currency. The best currency to take to the Maldives is either the Euro or the Dollar. Although many island allow and some prefer you to pay by card.
You can convert your local currency in the Maldives and a better exchange rate is normally obtained in the main banks in Male rather than through your hotel or resort, although this will either doing the exchange at the airport when you arrive or making a special trip to the capital.
Best Time to Visit Maldives
Perfect for sunbathers, a period from December to April is a tourist season with room rates at their peak. Yet, it never gets overcrowded in the Maldives. Winter is also your chance to witness an extraordinary spectacle of baby islands’ birth. Low season from May through September could be considered the best time to visit the Maldives. Crowds thin out, prices drop, and conditions for scuba diving and surfing are optimal. Rainfalls are possible, but storms usually move quickly. Besides, summer is a high time to see magic bio-luminescent plankton. Visiting the Maldives in this period will also introduce you to Ramadan traditions.