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At a Glance

Maldives has deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches and palm trees. It is also a place full of  character, where its people have long spent their days languishing in the very essence of idyll living. While it is  the perfect place to sit on a beach and watch a sunset with a cocktail balanced on your hand, it is also a  geographical marvel, knowing that there are thousands of fish swimming around the vivid corals just a few feet  away from where you sit.  History For Maldivians, who love a good story, it is somehow fitting that the early history of the country is enshrined in  myth and legend. There is the story of the Rannamaari, a tale about a sea monster than demands a virgin  sacrifice every full moon, until a brave man from Morocco, Mr Abdul Barakaath-Ul Barbary decides to confront  the monster and prohibit him from coming into the Maldives.  There is the story of Bodu Thakurufaanu, renowned for its length, who saved the Maldives from Portuguese  Invaders. These stories, while very much anecdotal, are based on the real facts that form the history of the  country. Written accounts portray a Maldives whose people have traveled far and wide, adventurers whose  geographical isolation had not limited the boundaries of their world. Maldives today remains very much like it  had then – small, but not lacking; isolated, but not invisible.  1st Century AD - The Roman manual of Navigation, the Periplus Maris Erythraei mentions islands that are  assumed to be the Maldives 2nd Century AD - Ptolemy refers to the Maldives in his geography 362 AD Roman historian records a visit of a  Maldivian delegation to Rome, bearing gifts to emperor Julian 662 AD A historical Chinese document records  that the King of the Maldives sent gifts to the Chinese Emperor Kao-Tsung of Tang Dynasty  Culture The islands of Maldives appear in-between the trading route of the Indian Ocean. Thus settlers, and visitors  from neighboring regions and around the world have come in contact with the islands for as long as history has  been recorded. Such is the to-and-for flow of people and their cultures, that a marked effect has been left in  the Maldivian people, the language, beliefs, arts, and attitudes.  The looks of the Maldivian people may differ from one atoll to the other, attributing to the genes passed on by  South and Southeast Asians, Africans, and Arabians. The language, Dhivehi, differs in dialect in some regions  in the south of Maldives, possibly due to the secluded nature and subsistent ways of island life. Maldivian  beliefs have been very much based around religion and superstition, often used together in matters of  significance but given separate positions in society. In matters of faith, Islam dominates, but influence of the  supernatural still continues to play a major role in most island communities, possibly giving credit to the  folklores and Buddhist traditions of the islands’ first settlers before conversion to Islam in 1153 AD. The mixing of cultures is very much seen in Maldivian arts. The music played with the local bodu-beru (big-  drum) resemble that of African drumming. The dhoni (a unique Maldivian sailboat) is an art form itself built with  skilled craftsmanship, with significant similarities to the Arabian dows. The fine artistry of Maldivians, seen in  the intricate details on wooden beams in antique mosques, represents what we have gained from Southeast  Asian architecture. Then there is the undefined: the distinct geometric designs used in mats woven from local  materials, the embroidered neckline of women’s traditional dresses and their ornaments too, expose another  story brought in from an unknown culture that has seeped in to Maldivian society.  The Environment
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The Maldivian President who dived underwater with his cabinet has given a new light to the association between Maldives and ‘environment’. The world now  knows how dependent the Maldives is on its natural environment.  The environment has a direct affect on all facets of a Maldivian’s life. The islands are protected by thousands  of reefs that need to be alive for this unique  archipelago to exist in future. The corals on our reefs need its countless inhabitants to feed on them for the corals to re-grow. Locals need the fish in the water for  livelihood and they depend on the beauty of its reefs and islands to sustain our tourism industry. Most importantly, the Maldives needs its citizens and visitors to  take care of its wonderful natural environment in order to survive as one of the most magical places on earth.