Wednesday, July 18, 2007

History of Maldives

History of Maldives. This is a brief history of the Indian Ocean country of the Maldives. It is short but has a good overview.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Independent island nation consisting of a chain of about 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks (some 200 of which are inhabited), grouped in clusters, or atolls, in the Indian Ocean. The islands extend more than 510 miles (820 km) from north to south and 80 miles (130 km) from east to west. The northernmost atoll is about 370 miles (600 km) south-southwest of the Indian mainland, and the central area, including the capital island of Male, is about 400 miles (645 km) southwest of Sri Lanka."

From the site:

Maldives comprises 1,191 islands in the Indian Ocean. The earliest settlers were probably from southern India. Indo-European speakers followed them from Sri Lanka in the fourth and fifth centuries BC. In the 12th century AD, sailors from East Africa and Arab countries came to the islands. Today, the Maldivian ethnic identity is a blend of these cultures, reinforced by religion and language.

Originally Buddhists, Maldivians were converted to Sunni Islam in the mid-12th century. Islam is the official religion of the entire population. Strict adherence to Islamic precepts and close community relationships have helped keep crime low and under control.

The official and common language is Dhivehi, an Indo-European language related to Sinhala, a language of Sri Lanka. The writing system is from right to left. English is used widely in commerce and increasingly as the medium of instruction in government schools.

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