A string of small coral islands in the Indian Ocean grouped in a double chain of 26 Atolls from North to South across the Equator. The Maldives are located about 700 km South West of Sri Lanka. The population of 400,000 inhabits 192 of its 1192 islands. The international airport is on the island of Hulumale and the capital city Male is a separate island opposite the airport. The local language of Dhivehi has some Arabic influence. Interestingly the English word Atoll = a ring of coral islands and dhoni = a vessel for inner-atoll navigation are anglicized forms of the Maldivian words Atoll and doni.
The Maldives is 1,5 m above sea level and due to concerns of rising sea levels the previous government has pledged to be carbon neutral. Portugal, The Netherlands and Britain had colonial power from around the 16th century. In 1965 the Maldives gained independence from the British Empire and in 1968 became a Republic.
Until 12th century, Buddhism was the dominant religion in the Maldives – before that they embraced an ancient form of Hinduism. Towards the end of the 12th century Islam became the state religion. According to some reports the Moroccan ‘Abu Barakat the Berber’ is believed to have spread the religion across the nation. Now the Maldives has 725 mosques of which 266 are women’s mosques.
The average air temperature is 30 degrees while the water temperature averages 28 degrees all year around – two good reasons to come to the Maldives! The weather is influenced by 2 weather systems – the North East Monsoon which runs from November to April with sunny days, calm seas and great visibility of up to 40 meters for our divers. The second system is the South West Monsoon which extends from May to October and has less settled weather with reduced visibility of about 15 meters. This is caused by the higher plankton levels in the water at this time which in turn brings huge quantities of fish life and of course the plankton feeders – Manta Rays.
Made in Maldives
Coir – the fibre of the dried coconut husk. Cured in pits, beaten, spun and twisted into rope. It is stitched together and rigged on the dhows that sail the Indian Ocean. It is stronger then hemp.
Ambergris – is a solid waxy flammable substance of dull grey or black colour produced in the digestive systems of sperm whales. It is an important ingredient in perfumes where it works as a fixative allowing the scent to last much longer. The Maldivian fisherman always keep a lookout for it as it makes them instantly wealthy at a rate of about 10,000 USD per pound.
Tuna – is caught by a technique called poling where the tuna is caught by pole and line – one hook, one man, one fish – which makes it 100% dolphin free tuna!