By Rachael Funk
As one of the most romantic islands in the world, the Maldives offer secluded paradise to its visitors. One of the safest travel destinations in the world, the Maldives are comprised of 26 atolls and nearly 1,200 coral islands.
A great vacation destination if you want to swim with whale sharks, catch a glimpse of the bioluminescent plankton that make unpredictable appearances, or simply take in a pristine landscape, the Maldives are as fascinating as they are beautiful. Here are a eight facts to help you get to know this breathtaking island a little better.
1. The first kingdom in the Maldives was established by an exiled prince
People who traveled from India were the first to colonize the island, but the first kingdom is thought to be established by Sro Soorudasaruna Adeettiya. The disgraced son of the king of Kalinga was exiled to the island which was called Dheeva Maari at the time.
2. The beaches consist of rare sand
The white sand you’ll find on the island is not made of quartz, like typical beach sand. Instead, it is formed from bits of crushed coral, much of which was inadvertently broken off living coral from overzealous parrot fish snacking on the seaweed and polyps that grow on the coral. Unlike quartz-based sand, coralline sand does not heat up and is comfortable to walk on, even on scorching days!
3. Alcohol is prohibited except in hotels and resorts
An Islamic country, the Maldives have strict regulations on importing and using products such as alcohol and pork. You are free to drink the beer and wine provided at the resort or hotel bars, but it is strictly forbidden anywhere else.
4. The literacy rate is extremely high
According to the CIA fact book, the literacy rate of the Maldives as of January 2018 is a little over 99%. With a population of about 392,709, 99.8% of males and 98.8% of females over the age of 15 are able to read and write.
5. Weekends are different
Instead of Saturday and Sunday, weekends in the Maldives include Friday and Saturday, with the work week beginning on Sundays. Fridays are considered the day of rest, which means public transportation and other government-run conveniences tend to be suspended until Saturdays.
6. The first undersea cabinet meeting was held in the Maldives
In 2009, President Mohammed Nasheed and 13 other government officials donned SCUBA gear and sank 20 feet under water to sign a document calling on other countries to cut their carbon dioxide emissions. This was to illustrate that as the lowest and flattest nation in the world, the Maldives would be tremendously affected by a rising sea level.
7. Its national tree is the coconut tree
Shown on the Maldivian emblem, coconut trees provide the only natural shade on the islands. Their wood is used to build dhonis, which are multi-purpose sailboats with a motor or sails and resemble traditional Arab sailing vessels. The green on the Maldives flag is said to represent peace and the coconut tree.
8. It is the lowest country in the world
The Maldives is the world’s lowest country in terms of elevation. As a result, the country is at a high risk of being submerged due to rising sea levels. Experience its natural wonders and wildlife before it's too late!
Combining your vacation to The Maldives with Dubai or Doha ensures the best of both worlds.