I don’t like copying Wikipedia, so if you’re interested in a detailed and thorough history of the Maldives, there will be a link below. In this article, you will find the most interesting facts about the history of the Maldivian state, who had the biggest influence, and how it reflects on the country today. The article is primarily aimed at tourists who are planning to come here for a vacation.

It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Maldives without these websites

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Flight tickets

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eSIM internet

maldives top hotels

Brief history of the Maldives from ancient times to the present day

The link leads to a very detailed article about who conquered whom, who came to power, and many complex names and dates. Below are the most important events:

  • Ancient tribes from modern-day India and Sri Lanka inhabited the territory of the Maldives as early as the 2nd to 3rd centuries BCE.
  • After their departure, practically no archaeological artifacts were left behind, except for stone steps. These settlers did not yet know pottery-making and had no metal. The only material available, palm wood, easily decomposes in a humid climate.
  • As a result, scholars know very little about the history of the Maldives during the time of its first settlers.
  • In the 5th century CE, Persians and Arabs began appearing on the islands.
  • The first written mention of the Maldives dates back to 947 CE.
  • In 1153, the Maldives are mentioned in written sources as a sultanate. This means that Islam was already present in the country at that time, and all inhabitants were Muslims. It is most likely that it was the Arabs who brought this religion with them.
a brief history of the maldives for tourists
In 2022, the Maldives celebrated the 50th anniversary of its tourism history: exactly 50 years since the country opened its doors to global tourism.
  • In 1558, the Portuguese conquered present-day Malé and established a military base in the Maldives. They attempted to impose Christianity on the local population, leading to a rebellion.
  • As a result of the rebellion in 1573, the Portuguese left the Maldives. Some sources indicate that they were completely wiped out by the locals.
  • Eighty years later, the Maldives came under Dutch control, but the Dutch learned from the Portuguese experience and managed the Maldives without interfering with the customs and religion of the local inhabitants.
  • In 1796, the British Crown established control over the Maldives.
  • In 1887, an important agreement was signed, stating that the Maldives would remain under the protection of the British Empire, but would have the freedom to manage their own internal affairs without interference from Britain. However, matters of foreign policy and defense remained in the hands of the British.
  • In 1953, following a referendum, the first president of the country came to power. He abolished the sultanate, which had been in place for over 800 years, and made the Maldives a republic.
  • During these same years, there was an active campaign for the independence of all British colonies around the world. The Maldives gained independent statehood in 1965.

More recently, the country has experienced political struggles, constitutional amendments, and scandals. Today, the Maldives continues on its own path, where religion has given way to law and democracy.

maldives history
Local residents still build boats as their ancestors did 200-300 years ago.

Events and facts with the greatest impact on the Maldives

And now, here are the events or facts that have impacted today’s Maldives. You will certainly encounter them during your vacation in this paradise:

  • The country’s religion is Islam, and it is quite radical in its expression. The radicalism pertains not to its treatment of “infidels,” but to local customs, the widespread prohibition of alcohol, and the ban on the dissemination of other religions. Details about this can be found in the article: Religion in the Maldives.
  • Arabs brought writing and language to the Maldives in the 5th century, along with their religion. In short, over 15 centuries the language has transformed into a mixture of Arabic and English known as Dhivehi.
    • Everything about the Maldivian language, as well as a tourist vocabulary in Dhivehi that will help you communicate with the locals.
maldivian history
The Dhivehi language may seem like Arabic to us Europeans, but in reality it is not.

England governed the Maldives for over 150 years, during the period of the Industrial Revolution. As a result, the following still exists in the Maldives today:

  • English sockets in the country. If you are not from the UK, it is better to bring a socket adapter with you. What else to bring from home to the Maldives.
  • Driving is also on the left side, with right-hand drive cars like in England.
  • The local population also speaks English quite well, as it is taught in school. If you speak English, you will not encounter any language barriers anywhere.

Useful information for tourists

In general, the history of the Maldives is not as bloodshed as that of other countries in the region. The country has not experienced serious wars or slavery, and except for a few uprisings in over 1000 years, there have been no other wars here.

For example, neighboring Zanzibar was the center of the slave trade for over 300 years. Mauritius has conquered and massacred the local population many times.


The important trade route from Europe to the India of the Dutch East India Company passed through Mauritius, Zanzibar, and Seychelles. However, the Maldives were the least interesting to Europeans, as they had absolutely no resources, including fresh water and valuable minerals.

There is not a single river, lake, or the like in the country. Therefore, it was more profitable and reasonable to replenish food supplies along the way in India or on Zanzibar itself. As for the Maldives, no one particularly held on to them or spent huge resources to govern these islands.

Zanzibar, on the other hand, is one large island, while the Maldives consist of over 1200 islands, which are widely spread out in the ocean over a distance of more than 1000 km. This presented a transportation and defensive nightmare in the past, and even today, transport between the islands remains complicated and expensive.

In conclusion, the history of the Maldives dates back over 2000 years, but written records and significant artifacts only begin to appear in the 9th or 10th century CE. The British had the greatest influence on the Maldives, and as for tourism, the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of the beginning of global tourism to the Maldives in 2022. While this industry is young and lacks a long history, it is now the country’s main economic driver.

If you enjoyed the article and the content in this guide, you can buy me a coffee ^_^

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to the Maldives

  • Flight tickets and the best deals
  • Tour packages (from budget to luxury): Expedia
  • Hotels and guesthouses on any island:
    • Hotellook compares prices among a dozen other services and platforms and offers to choose the best one.
    • Booking – the most popular service for booking accommodation.
    • Agoda – the main competitor of Booking.
  • 12go is the largest Asian transfer service. It gathers all Maldivian carriers, even the small ones that operate between local islands.
  • Tours and excursions: Viator – a limited selection of excursions, but convenient and reliable.
  • Comprehensive insurance: EKTA
  • eSIM at the same price as in telecom office in Male.