Maldives Imagine 1,192 coral islands formed around 26 natural ring-like atolls scattered like tiny white pearls in the Indian Ocean, just across the equator. Picture cobalt blue seas, aquamarine reefs, heavenly white beaches, palm trees, iridescent sunsets and pleasant temperatures all year round. These magical islands, each with its own spectacular reef encircling the island
Culture and history info
Historically, the Maldives was an important crossroad in the Indian Ocean, hence Maldivian culture is a melting pot of various influences gathered from visitors who set foot there over the centuries. Influences of India, Sri Lanka, Arabia, Persia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Africa are evident in the unique culture of the Maldives. Maldivians have assimilated these influences over the years and created their own cultural identity like no other.
A proud history and rich culture evolved from the first settlers in the Maldives, who were seafarers from various parts of the world, traversing the oceans in ancient times. Since people from different parts of the world settled in the Maldives over the centuries, you can still spot some of the traditions they brought with them in Maldivian culture. Some of the traditional drumming and dancing (known as ‘boduberu’) shows African influences, with rhythmic beating of drums and some songs in a language resembling that of East African countries.
As one would expect, there is a great South Asian influence in some of the music and dancing and particularly in the traditional food of the Maldives. This includes spicy curries using coconut milk and fish as the main staples and ‘roshi’ (a thin flatbread) as a popular accompaniment. Those who aren’t fans of curries will also find a range of world cuisine available including pasta, burgers, noodles and other home comforts. The resorts boast a wide variety of international cuisine, much of which is serious competition for the world’s top restaurants. Fresh ingredients are flown in daily or grown on the islands.
However, some of the South Asian customs especially with regard to women such as the Sub Continent’s tradition of secluding women from public view are not tenets of life here. In fact, women play a major role in society - not surprising considering the fact many Maldivian men spend the whole day out at sea fishing. Many of the country’s traditions are strongly related to the sea and the fact that life is dependent on the sea around us.
Traditional handicrafts include matt-weaving and beautiful lacquer-work, usually painted in black, red and yellow. Although these traditions are less commonplace today, there are still some talented craftsmen and women who make these (matts are weaved exclusively by women). They can be found in souvenir shops at resorts and in Male’ and make a wonderful souvenir of your holiday in the Maldives.
The Maldives reached one million tourists in 2013. Tourism is the largest industry in the Maldives with 20% of the GDP and 60% of the foreign exchange that flows into the country coming through the tourism sector. Over 90% of the government tax revenue comes from tourism-related taxes and import duties.
Fishing is the second leading economic sector of the Maldives with a significant amount of the country's income being generated through the export of fish and other marine products. Tuna is the most common fish export from the Maldives.
The Maldivian economy is regarded as exemplary in the region and welcomes foreign investments.
Rufiyaa (MRF) and Laari (L) (1 Rufiyaa = 100 Laaris)
Rufiyaa bank notes came in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500
ATMs are available at the airport and in Male’ for those wanting to withdraw local currency.
Payments of most hard cash currencies are accepted at all resorts and hotels, and most major international credit cards are also accepted. Some resorts offer all-inclusive, cash-free holiday options.
In Male’, tourists can pay for purchases using Rufiyaa but US Dollars are also welcomed. Tourism goods and services in the Maldives are now subject to TGST (Tourism Goods and Services Tax), which is charged at 12%. This includes things such as souvenirs from the boutiques as well as drinks or food not included in your resort meal plan.
It’s recommended that if you have any significant amounts of Rufiyaa left at the end of your holiday you should change it before you leave as you will be unable to convert it at a foreign exchange outside of the Maldives.
Commonly used credit cards
- American Express
- Master Card
- Euro Card
The majority of the banks in Male’ are found on the strip of the island facing the airport. These include HSBC, Bank of Ceylon, State Bank of India and Bank of Maldives.