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The Republic of Maldives is an island country in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka and the tip of India. It consists of twenty-six atolls, made up of 1,192 islands, spread out over an ocean area of about 35,000 square miles.

The first inhabitants of the islands didn't leave any archaeological evidence, perhaps because their homes were made of wood and other perishable materials. The first recorded evidence of the people of the Maldives was when the Sinhalese people came to the Maldives from Sri Lanka around 540 BC.

Buddhism was introduced to the islands in the 3rd century BC, and was the dominant religion of the Maldives until the 12th century AD. Nearly all of the archaeological evidence found in the Maldives have been of Buddhist origins. The Maldivian language and many of its customs are from the Buddhist era.

The Maldives were on the maritime trading routes, and the roles played by Arabs in the Indian Ocean by the 1100s is probably why the last Buddhist king of the Maldives converted to Islam in 1153, beginning a succession of six Islamic dynasties lasting until 1932 when it became an elected office.

In 1558, the Portuguese took control of the Maldives but they lost it to a local guerrilla faction within fifteen years. The Portuguese are said to have been cruel rulers, requiring islanders to convert to Christianity or face death. The Dutch came in the mid-1600s, but did not involve themselves directly in local affairs, so the islands continued to be governed by the Islamic customs that had been in place for centuries. In 1796, the British expelled the Dutch and established a protectorate over the islands. As did the Dutch, the British had little presence on the islands and left its internal administration to a succession of sultans. It was during the British era that a constitution was written making the sultanate elective, although the position was retained for another twenty-one years.

With encouragement from the British government, the sultanate was suspended and a constitutional monarchy was introduced in 1953. Its first elected president, Muhammad Amin Didi, reformed the country's educational system and promoted women's rights. His government was ousted by Muslim conservatives and Didi was beaten by a mob, dying shortly afterwards.

In 1965, Maldives became independent from Britain, and in 1967 its parliament voted in favor of a republic. In a national election the following year, more than 90% of those participating in the vote were in favor of a republic. The new republic's elected president fled to Singapore after facing several plots and revolts, reportedly absconding with $4 million from the Maldivian treasury.

The next president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, took office in 1978 and was elected to five terms, surviving coup attempts in 1980 and 1988, before being defeated in a re-election bid in 2008 by Mohammed Nasheed, who had been a political prisoner and exile during the Gayoom administration, and who won the country's first election in which there was an opposition candidate. However, Nasheed resigned in 2012 after a mutiny against his administration, first by the police and then the army. The vice president assumed the office of president. Nasheed was later arrested and convicted of terrorism in a trial that many viewed as unfair and political in nature. Nasheed was a candidate in the 2013 elections, and won the most votes, although the Maldivian Supreme Court overturned the election. In the re-vote, the half-brother of former President Gayoom was elected.

The new president, Abdulla Yameen, survived an assassination attempt in 2015, in which his vice president was implicated. In 2018, the Maldivian parliament was dissolved, and the military occupied the capital. Although tourists, who view the islands as a holiday destination, are generally unaware of any difficulties, the political climate remains unstable. Maldivian youth are frequently enlisted to fight for ISIS in the Middle East.

The state religion of Maldives is Islam, and adherence to it is required of citizens. Its legal system is based on Shariah law. Most of its inhabited islands have several mosques. Its official language is Dhivehi, although English is widely spoken by Maldivians.

Topics related to the nation of Maldives in general, or to any of its islands, are appropriate for this category. Sites representing Maldivian businesses or companies, religious institutions, governmental agencies or departments, organizations, or other entities based on Maldives may also be listed here, as may news or other informational sites hosted elsewhere, but focused on the Maldives.



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