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The Maldives has been an independent state throughout its known history, except for a brief period of 15 years of Portuguese occupation in the 16th century. The Maldives became a British Protectorate in 1887 and remained so until 26 July 1965. The independent Maldives reverted from a Sultanate to a Republic on 11 November 1968. The first written constitution was proclaimed in 1932.

Earliest known history of the Maldives is recorded in these metal tabs known as "loamaafaanu", according to which it seems certain that the islands of Maldives were first settled by Aryan immigrants who are believed to have colonised Sri Lanka at the same time, (around 500 BC). Further migration from South India, as well as Sri Lanka, occurred. The latest archaeological findings suggest the islands were inhabited as early as 1500 BC.

Around 947 AD, recorded contact with the outside world began with the Arab travelers. One can imagine accounts taken home depicting the potential for trade in pearls, spices, coconuts, dried fish, and certainly the abundance of cowry shells. The cowry shells were the accepted currency from Africa to China until the sixteenth century. Together with the description of the exotic paradise islands and expensive natural resources, the news the travelers must have taken home probably resulted in the arrival of more ships bearing traders and other travelers.

Religion and Maldives

Since Maldives embraced Islam in 1153, Islam has been central to the life of Maldivians. The main events and festivals of Maldivian life follow the Muslim Calendar. From infancy children are taught the Arabic alphabet. Religious education is provided both at home and at school. Islam is part of the school curriculum and is taught concurrently with other subjects.

Maldives Culture

The close-knit island communities practice mutual aid to survive difficult circumstances. A system of extended families provide a safety net for members of a family going through difficult periods. In addition to the parents other members of the family also contribute in taking care of children. Traditionally men go out fishing during the day and women are responsible to look after the affairs of the family and very often the community. This remains so even today in smaller island communities.

Ethnicity of Maldivians

The origins of the Maldivian people are shrouded in mystery. The first settlers may well have been from Sri Lanka and southern India. Some say Aryans, who sailed in their reed boats from Lothal in the Indus Valley about 4,000 years ago, probably followed them. Archeological evidence suggests the existence of Hinduism and Buddhism before the country embraced Islam in 1153 A.D. Not surprisingly, the faces of today's Maldivian display the features of various races that inhabit the lands around the Indian Ocean's shipping and maritime routes, the Maldives has long been a melting pot for African, Arab and South East Asian mariners.

     
       
 

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