The cluster of islands of the Maldives gives out the picture of a thousand pearl drops speckled across the Indian Ocean. It is an independent nation on its own and each island is self sustained surrounded by blue waters and white sandy beaches. The cluster of islands are grouped into 26 atolls and well known for its very own unique exquisiteness is the capital city male’.
The very tempting features or factors that attract tourists to our heavenly islands are the very irresistible blue waters, sun and white sandy beaches. In the Maldives the tourism industry is identical with resort islands and each resort is totally self-contained on a separate island. At the beginning of the tourism industry started in the early 1970s, the facilities provided for the tourists were basic; rooms were furnished with a bed and an essential cooling fan. Local people with no formal training served meals and there were limited recreational facilities beside the sun bathing and swimming. This situation has changed substantially since then, and a diverse range of facilities is now offered at different resorts.
The Maldives is comprised of 1190 coral islands which are sited in the Indian Ocean of which 200 islands are inhabited and the rest of the islands are uninhabited. The islands are formed in such an extraordinary way it is only 1% land and 99% water. The group of islands stretches 820 KM north to south and 120 KM to east to west. It is situated in the southwest of Sri Lanka on the equator. Each atoll is enclosed by a coral reef separated by several deep natural channels and a lagoon. Most of the islands can be covered within 10 minutes and a few is longer than 2 KM. Transport between the islands is on speed boats, dhonis and by air transfer.
The sun is mostly shining over the Maldives throughout the year which results a warm and humid climate in the country. Variations in the temperature exist through the months of May till October which brings some rain. The most ideal weather in the country is during the months of November till May. The climate in the Maldives is categorized into two seasons which are known as southwest monsoon and northeast monsoon. The northeast season last from the months of November till May resulting a dry season however the southwest monsoon is wet and lasts through the months of June to October. The temperature ranges from mid-20s to mid-30s and is highest in April and May.
Although our descendants are from the neighbouring countries the culture and heritage of the Maldives is rich in its own very unique way. The country’s very own culture and traditions are very strong with a distinctive Maldivian touch to everything including its traditional music, dances, food etc. Many visitors would be hard pressed to find words to describe this elusive culture, which also includes our rituals, beliefs, norms and shared experiences.
History reveals that a number of religions have been practiced in the Maldives by our ancestors but today the Maldives is a 100% Sunni Muslim country. As Muslims we all are expected to pray and a five time prayer is conducted in every mosque throughout the country.
History does not reveal a lot on our ancestors or their life evidence proves that the group of island has been lived by its ancestors during the 4th century BC. Travellers from all over the world came to this island nation and settled over here as a result we have a mixed race. The population of the Maldives is about 350, 000. People of this country are considered by the outside world as the most friendly and hospitable with their down to earth styles. Their generosity and welcoming smile is more than enough for visitors to want to come back to this country.
With limited natural resources, the economy is mainly based on tourism and fishing. Primary attractions for tourists in the Maldives are the tropical climate, scenic island beauty and activities related to the pristine beaches and marine environment. The physical configuration of tourism development in the Maldives is unique in that all development is composed of resorts each occupying a separate island. With the rapid growth and the substantial socio-economic benefits, tourism has now become the backbone of the Maldivian economy. Maldives a relatively isolated country with an economy based predominantly on fishing, the economic fortunes and structure of the country has changed dramatically over the last 30 years.
Cutting edge technology has led to more advanced communication systems in the Maldives. Today the Maldives has two telecommunication companies operating widely in the Maldives. Despite its geographical isolation the Maldives has easy communication with the outside world. It includes plainline for local calls, easy access lines which include operator assisted international calls, quick line with full IDD access worldwide, public and private cardphones, Dhimobile MMS, SMS, voicemail and prepaid services, fully automatic atoll communication, internet services and many more.
The currency used by the country is Maldivian rufiyaa and laaris; one US dollar is equivalent to 12 rufiyaa 85 laaris. Today tourists can use any form of payment in the resorts it could be through credit cards, US dollar, Euro, Travellers Cheque. Most commonly used credit cards in the Maldives are Visa, Master, Diners Club. JCB and Euro card.
Customs and Immigration
By Law the government of the Maldives proscribes the import of weapons, drugs, pornographic materials. Alcohol is permitted only if a license is acquired by the visitor to import it to the country. Those who do not hold a license to bring in alcohol it will be declared and returned back on your departure. As the Maldives is concerned in preserving its environment and ecosystem it is also strictly prohibited to remove any items from the natural habitats of the marine life including shells, corals etc.
On arrival a thirty day visa is granted to visitors. For convenient immigration clearance it is advisable to carry valid travel documents and confirmation of hotel reservation. For visitors without prior booking assistance is offered by the airport tourist info center which is located just outside the departure hall.
Maldives is five hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Best Time to Visit
There is no best time to visit Maldives as it is generally sunny; there are programs for Christmas and other holidays. But if you would like a peaceful time you could avoid the holidays. But Maldives will always be the same all year end.
All the Hotels and Resorts in Maldives have an excellent transportation system so visitors can easily reach other islands, no matter where they stay. All most all resorts are located on their own Private Island or small islands where only a few resorts exist along the waterfront areas, all offer a high standard of service and unless you need to be in a particular spot, it really doesn't matter where you stay.
The resorts offer many sports activities ranging from tennis, badminton, table tennis, squash to windsurfing, banana riding, catamaran, jet skiing, diving and many more.
Words cannot express the breathtaking beauty of Maldives underwater world. It is considered by our visitors as the real beauty of the Maldives. Today the Maldives is one of the world’s top diving destinations of the world. From the beginner to the very experienced diver these underwater open new doors to a heaven where everyone has to have their very own chance to experience it. For those who do not dive there is the alternative to snorkel along with the marine life. Most of the resorts are equipped with diving schools with qualified dive instructors who know what they are doing. Courses conducted by them are focused on beginners and the very experienced divers. As Maldives is well known for its beautiful coral reefs, multi coloured fish, your trip would be incomplete without a diving trip to see these beautiful coral gardens.
Voltage in Maldives is 220 or 240 volts, depending on your location. An adapter is recommended for using appliances. Most resort/hotels provide hair dryers and other amenities.
Most of the resorts and islands have its own desalination plants as a source of water. As our environment is fragile and the main source of fresh water is the aquifer that floats on saline water which about 2 meters below ground level. As the soil is generally porous and it is disposed to pollution due to lack of proper sewerage disposal systems.
No vaccination is needed for visitors to Maldives against malaria unless if you are coming from a yellow fever affected area. The most common problems are sunburn and dehydration. So it is strongly advisable to drink lots and lots of fluids to prevent dehydration and it is also important to have sun protection lotions and creams if not it is available in the shops of resorts and male’.
As mostly the weather is sunny the ideal clothing to be used during holidays is the kind of clothing which is worn during summer. It is recommended to wear light cotton and linen wear and as for footwear it depends on where you are staying. If it is in the resort and if you want to walk on the beach everyone would prefer to feel the pure sand underneath your feet but if it is paved surfaces that you are walking it is advisable to wear some kind of sandals.
The mother tongue of the Maldivian’s is called Dhivehi and some similarities are found when compared to several other languages from neighbouring countries such as India and Sri Lanka. English is widely spoken by most of the people. Also a lot of the tourist guides are fluent in some of the languages such as Japanese, Italian, French and German.
Maldivian resorts and most of its islands especially serve many varieties of cuisines ranging from west to east and its very traditional delicacies and cuisines. In male you will find a lot of restaurants, cafes’, coffee bars and local teashops.
If male’ is the economic central of Maldives and is almost the geographical centre. It has many facilities including a number of hospitals, clinics, business centers and government offices. It is possibly the most urbanized island in the Maldives. It has great shopping, international and traditional Maldivian cuisines and almost everything any other city in the world has to offer.
As for sightseeing and landmarks in the capital city it is numerous. The most popular architectural landmarks are: Islamic centre which is the largest mosque in the city and the building stands proudly as one of the most extraordinary interior designs with beautiful wood carvings. The building also provides other facilities such as meeting rooms and a fully equipped library. The other landmark is Friday mosque known as ‘hurkuru miskiiy’ it is one of the oldest mosque in the country and dates back to the 16th century. It has been recently restored and has been well maintained over the years. The other landmark which is a must for visitors to see is called ‘medhu ziyaaraiy’ a shrine of an African traveler who today is believed to be responsible in converting the country to Islam.
The former president’s palace ‘Muleeage’ is also a beautiful palace built in 1936 by one of the early kings of Maldives. Today presidential palace is a modern building which has attracted a lot of visitors for its beautiful exterior and interior décor.
Male’ offers some great shopping; it has shops ranging from electronics to general goods. It has good quality clothes shops. Also nearby islands other than the capital city has their range of souvenir shops. The shops are open from morning 8.00 am till 11.00 pm in the night except on Fridays which opens at 2.00 pm in the afternoon. A wide variety of handicrafts are available in the shops these include aircrafts such as wooden items, seashells.