Maldives

The Maldives is a geological marvel consisting of 1,190 coral islands that form an archipelago of 26 major atolls stretching like a string of pearls across the Indian Ocean. The top of the chain of islands lies to the south west of India. The atolls stretch southwards from there and past the western side of Sri Lanka, ending just over the other side of the equator in the Southern Hemisphere. Each atoll is blessed with incredible biodiversity including an abundance of exotic corals and a rainbow spectrum of marine life.

Discover the sunshine, white sand and crystal-clear waters of a thousand ‘Robinson Crusoe’ islands with tranquil lagoons of infinite shades of blue; the ultimate combination for the ideal tropical holiday destination. Nonetheless, there is plenty more to the Maldives than just that, visit the Maldives and discover the beauty of the destination for yourself!

The origin of the first settlers of the Maldives still remains a mystery. The historians date early settlers back to 5th century BC with the Aryan immigrants coming from the neighbouring countries India and Sri Lanka. The Maldivian language is said to be Indo-Aryan with influences from Sinhalese, Tamil, Sanskrit, Persian, Urdhu and Arabic.

It is believed that Hinduism existed before Buddhism. The Maldivians were practising Buddhism until AD 1153, when a learned scholar converted the king to Islam. The exact name and origins of this scholar is an ongoing debate. Some are of the opinion that he was a Moroccan traveller named Sheikh. Abul Barakaath Yoosuful Barubaree. Others say that he was from Persia and known as Sheikh Yoosuf Shamsudheenul Thabreyzi. Mr Mohammed Ibrahim Luthufi, an acclaimed contemporary historian and researcher, claims that the name of the person who converted Maldivians to Islam was Sheikh Aburikaab Yoosuf Thabreyzi.

The customs and social behavior of the Maldivians have been greatly influenced by the Indians, Sri Lankans, Arabs and North Africans who visited the Maldives while traversing through the trading routes of the central Indian Ocean. The Maldivian culture is rich and vibrant due to the infusion of various other cultural elements.

Though Maldives was culturally influenced by other traditions, Maldivians have built and preserved an exclusive cultural identity.

Accordingly the Maldivians converse using a language of their own; In 1153 AD Maldivians converted to Islam and the religion has transformed and introduced new fundamentals to the Maldivian culture.

Folklore

Maldivians inherited a treasure trunk of ancient mythology and folklore that was passed orally through generations. These myths cover fascinating stories on various aspects of island life.
Since the islands are surrounded by sea, most folktales depict fearful sea demons and spirits that haunt the islanders.

Life in Islands

Traditionally the island communities were very close-knit. This togetherness is still prevailing in the small island societies.

Accordingly men will be mainly engaged in fishery, carpentry and toddy tapping. Women were mainly engaged in household duties and raising families.

Certain rituals and practices were followed in the islands on special occasions like weddings. Some of these rituals survive to this day.

The advent of tourism in the 1970’s accelerated the modernisation process of the country. Today an increasing number of women hold crucial positions within the public and private sector. As a result of economic growth, dramatic lifestyle changes were introduced.

Music and Dance

The Maldives boasts of a rich culture of music and dance. Some of the cultural music and dances can trace their roots to distant continents. Resort islands organize cultural performances to entertain their guests regularly during which you can observe islanders performing traditional music and dance items.

One of the most famous Maldivian cultural displays which involve singing and dancing is called the “Bodu Beru”. The Bodu Beru performers, numbering around 20 will be wearing traditional garb of sarongs and white sleeved shirts. Bodu Beru performance is guaranteed to make you sway along with the drumbeats.

Other traditional music and dance items include; Dhandi Jehun, Langiri, Thaara and Gaa Odi Lava. Most of these items involve rhythmic music and dances using various cultural props.

There are some cultural routines exclusively performed by Maldivian women. Bandiyaa jehun, Maafathi Neshun and Bolimalaafath Neshun. Some of these acts were designed to perform in the royal courts.

Indian and Western music have also greatly influenced the musicians of the country. Frequently resorts host performances of local bands to enliven their guests.

Craftsmanship

Maldivians are known for being avid craftsmen. The intricate stone carvings found in the Friday Mosque in Male’ is a living example of Maldivian craftsmanship.

The mastery and inventiveness of Maldivians can be seen in lacquer works, mat weaving, coir rope making and calligraphy. Traditional dresses and ornaments profess the artistry and creativeness of Maldivian artisans. Such exceptional works can be acquired by visitors as souvenirs.

A visit to the Maldives not only guarantees the best vacation of your lifetime, but it also gives you exposure to a great cultural experience.

The national currency of the Maldives is Rufiyaa. Previously MRF and Rf was used as the symbol for Rufiyaa. However, currently the ISO recognised code for Rufiyaa is MVR. One Rufiyaa is subdivided into hundred laaris (cents). Presently 1 US Dollar is equivalent to MVR 15.42.

Historically the Maldivians used cowry shells as their currency to trade with the outside world. Modern banknotes were first issued in the Maldives on 5thSeptember 1948.

Rufiyaa Banknotes and Coins

There are six distinct denominations of Rufiyaa banknotes presently in circulation. Available denomination of Rufiyaa banknotes includes;  MVR 5, MVR 10, MVR 20, MVR 50, MVR 100 and MVR 500.  The design of the Rufiyaa banknotes depicts drawings of coconuts, Maldivian boats, and historical buildings.

There are seven denominations of Rufiyaa coins. Available denominations of Rufiyaa coins include; MVR 2, MVR 1, 50 Laari, 25 Laari, 10 Laari, 5 Laari and 1 Laari. The coins depict sketches of National Emblem, conch shell, turtle, Friday Mosque, sailing boat, tuna fish, and palm tree.

Buying Maldivian Rufiyaa

Most currencies can be exchanged to Maldivian Rufiyaa through banks and licensed Money Exchangers. Money exchanging services is provided round-the-clock at the arrival terminal in Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (MLE).

Most commonly used International currencies in the Maldives includes; US Dollar, Pound Sterling and Euros. Most of the resort islands, liveaboards, hotels, restaurants, travel agents and souvenir shops accept foreign currency and credit card payments.

Banks and Credit Cards

The Maldives Monetary Authority acts as the Central Bank of the country. The Bank of Maldives, having branches across the country is the National Bank of the Maldives. Other reputed local and International Banks also operate in the country.

The normal banking hours are generally from Sunday to Thursday 08:00hrs-15:00hrs. Most Banks are closed on weekends, public and bank holidays. Local and International Banks provide ATM services to customers. Local Banks may charge a nominal fee for ATM transactions involving International Credit Cards.

Major International Credit Cards like American Express, Visa Card, Master Card and JCB Card can be used in the Maldives for financial transactions.

Visit this link to get daily updated exchange rates of major foreign currencies: http://www.bankofmaldives.com.mv/exchange-rates

Maldives, the sunny side of life is blessed with magical and breathtaking displays of sunshine for the better part of a year. Similar to tropical countries, the Maldives enjoys a dry and wet season.  Conveniently, the hot and humid weather is complemented with cooling sea breezes and periodic rain.

The dry season or the Northeast Monsoon locally known as “Iruvai” continues from January to March. While the wet season or the Southwest Monsoon locally known as “Hulhangu” progress from Mid-May to November. Traditionally the natives used a calendar called “nakaiy” to identify weather developments.

Amidst the two seasons, there is little or no change in the temperature. This makes every season the best season to visit the Maldives. Likewise packing for a holiday in the Maldives is undemanding due to the uniform weather forecasts.

On average the daily temperature may fluctuate from 31 °C during the day to 23 °C in the night. The highest temperature ever recorded in the Maldives was 36.8 °C. Whereas the lowest temperature ever recorded in the Maldives was 17.2 °C.

The dry season is the season for admirers and enthusiasts of the sun. Throughout the dry season you are assured of beautiful and bright sunshine. Accordingly the seas are serene with clear blue skies. There is only sporadic rain during this season. Hence, this is the ultimate season for sunbathing, sunset watching and scuba diving.

The wet season showers torrential rain to the Maldives. Occasional thunderstorms and strong winds are the norm of this season. Consequently large waves and swells are generated in the ocean. As a result, the wet season is the most favourable occasion for surfers to showcase their flair in the great surf spots of the country. Nevertheless, the sun announces its presence on interludes, even during the wet season by bursting forth from the cloudy skies, dispensing rays of bright sunshine.

 Get the Maldives latest weather forecasts from: http://www.meteorology.gov.mv/