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Thursday 22nd March
Maldives Information - Page 2
Early inhabitants of the Maldives may have migrated to the islands from Southern India and Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

In the twelfth century, Islam, brought to the Maldives by Arab traders, became the country's religion.

The Portuguese occupied the islands in the middle of the sixteenth century but were expelled in 1573. In the seventeenth century the Maldives came under a Dutch Protectorate. Towards the end of the eighteenth century the British took over rule of Ceylon from the Dutch and the [Dutch] Protectorate of the Maldives.

At the end of 1887 the Sultan of the Maldives signed a contract with the British formalizing the British Protectorate.

The Maldives gained full independence in 1965 and became the Republic of Maldives in 1968. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom led the country from 1978 until a democratic election in October 2008.

The services sector provides a high percentage of the Maldives’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Tourism accounts for a significant percentage of the GDP.

Agricultural products include coconuts, corn and sweet potatoes. Fishing is a leading industry. Other industries are shipping, boat building, coral and sand mining, woven mats, rope, clothing, fish processing and coconut processing. (2008)

Calligraphy is an important Islamic art form. Examples of calligraphy in the Maldives can be seen in the country's mosques and the Islamic Centre in Male.

Traditional song and dance is influenced by the music of South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. (African slaves were brought to the Maldives). Today, a variety of musical styles, including western music and Indian music, are popular.

Football is played on most of the islands of the Maldives. Cricket has been played in Male for over a century.

Sports in the Maldives include swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing.

Fishing is also a popular sport.

All Islamic holy days are celebrated. Independence Day is on 26 July (from UK - 1965).

News from the Maldives is available from Newslink.

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