Maldives History

People have lived in these islands for over 3000 years

The history of the Maldives is as mysterious as the country itself. The moving hand of time has made it difficult to separate facts from legend, but has historical evidence leaves little doubt of the richness of life in the Maldives during the past.

Liberally sprinkled with stories of people who fought demons from the sea, brave Sultans and Kings who fought valiantly for the nation's independence, and huge dynasties which ruled the country for decades, the Maldives has a history which captures the minds of both the serious historian and the imaginative day dreamer.

People have been living on the islands of the Maldives from as far back as 3000 years ago. They set sail from different parts of the world - often not realizing that their ultimate destination will be the Maldives where they will find an idyllic place to settle down and live in total serenity for the rest of their lives. 

The ancient mariners came from different parts of the world. They came from Asia, Arabia, Europe and the Americas. Some came across the Maldives by accident. Some ere asylum seekers. Some were on planned journeys. All of them stayed for the same reason - the country's beauty was too inviting to resist, the peace and the serenity which existed then and still survives today, is hard to find anywhere else in the world.

Life evolved slowly. As 99 percent of the country is the sea, it made sense that life centered around the ocean. Slowly, as the population increased, the Maldivian people with their mixed features, and simple, peaceful nature began to emerge. The existed on different islands, they formed tight-knit little island communities and in 1153 AD, was bonded by faith in the one religion - Islam.

Islam came to the Maldives with the Arabian traveler Abul Barakhat Al-Bar Bari. Historical remains from as far back as 400 BC show strong evidence that Buddhism was widely practised among the people. Bar barrio's story is again steeped in legend. However, the fact remains that Maldives is one of the few 100 percent Muslim nations in the world. 

The Maldivians, with their inherent love for peace, had to fight hard for their independence. In 1558, the Portuguese invaded and captured the Maldives. They ruled the country for 15 long years, until Boduthakurufaanu, the national hero saved the nation from losing its freedom forever. He ruled the country as Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu from 1573 - 1583. 
After 800 years of being a Sultanate (from 1153 AD- 1953), the Maldives became a Republic in 1953. However, remaining a Republic for less than a year, the Maldives returned to being a Sultanate on 21 August 1953.

The Maldives which became a British Protectorate, gained full independence on July 26, 1965. The second Republic was declared on 11 November 1968 and since then the country has remained a fully independent republic. 

History - Important dates...

400 BC Buddhist Kingdom 
Discovery of ruined temples on some islands indicate an early Buddhist reign.

1153
Conversion from Buddhism to Islam
Foundation of the first Sultanate
Islam becomes the national religion
The first Sultan of the Maldives was Mohamed Bin Ibnu Abdulla (1141 - 1156, he disappeared during a pilgrimage to Mecca)

1344
Ibnu Batuta, Arabian historian and scholar traveled around the Maldives and worked as a Judge. 

1558
The Portuguese capture Male'. Sultan Ali VI falls in battle.

1573
Under the leadership of Mohamed Thakurfaanu and his two brothers, the Maldives frees itself after 15 years of Portuguese rule.
Sultan Thakurufaanu (from 1573 - 1583) is honoured as national hero.

1887
On December 16, 1887 the Sultan of the Maldives signs a Protectorate Treaty with England. The Sultan receives protective rights for the Maldives, and is obliged to pay a tribute to the English Crown.

1932
The first written constitution comes into force. (Constitutional Sultanate)

1947
The last tribute payment to England.

1953
January 1 - After 800 years as a Sultanate (between 1153 - 1953), the first Republic is declared. The first President is Mohamed Amin Didi who dies only one year later.

1953, August 21
Return to Sultanate.

1959 
Secession of the Southern Atolls and deceleration of the Republic of Suvadhuva. 

1965
On July 26, 1965 the Maldives becomes independent and in the same year, a full member of the United Nations.



1968
On November 11, 1968 the second Republic comes into force (Presidential Republic by plebiscite). The first President is Ibrahim Nasir.

1972
The beginnings of tourism came after Hans Hass with his boat Xarifa. Produced the first film on the Maldives, both over and underwater in 1957/58.

1976
Accepted in the group of Non-Aligned States. The British leave the airbase at Gan.

1978
The current President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is elected for the first time and is confirmed in office in 1983, 1988 and again in 1993.

1988 Nov 3rd.
Failed attempted coup by Tamil separatists on 3 November 1988. The President asks for foreign support. On the same evening, 1600 Indian parachutists land on the main island and suppress the rebellion.