8 Things That May Surprise You on Your First Visit to The Maldives

8 Things That May Surprise You on Your First Visit to The Maldives

Can you pinpoint The Maldives on a map? Do you know its official language?

The Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean. A popular honeymoon destination, the Maldives attracts many couples looking for romance in an idyllic setting. Famous for sparkling crystal clear waters, an abundance of fascinating marine life, water sports, luxury, and sublime villas built right over the water, The Maldives is a picture-perfect destination. There are, however, several facts that may surprise you about the country.

1. The official language is Dhivehi

The Maldives has its own language, which is called Dhivehi. It may also be referred to as Maldivian. It is similar to the language spoken in Sri Lanka. Several dialects of Dhivehi are spoken across the different island groups. Dhivehi uses its own unique script, which is written from right to left. The script comes partly from Arabic and Hindi. The local language has been influenced by Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, English, French, Portuguese, and Persian. Don’t worry about mastering the language for a visit, though; English is taught in many schools and most locals speak it well.

2. The capital city looks nothing like the glossy brochure images

things you should know maldives

Image credit: Mark Fischer

We’re sure you’re excited to see the gorgeous views commonly portrayed in holiday brochures, but you might be shocked when you land in the nation’s capital city of Male. One of the world’s most densely populated cities and with almost every centimeter developed, Male is something of a jumble of buildings and a mass of people.

3. Locals used to build their homes from coral

Until the practice was banned for environmental reasons, local homes used to be made from coral. Take a stroll around the capital of Male and you will still find dwellings made from the sea creatures.

4. Some islands are not natural

The Maldives is made up of more than 1,100 islands, many of which were formed from coral or volcanic activity. Some of the islands, however, are artificial. Manmade islands, such as Huhulmale, were created using sand and concrete!

5. You can swim underneath some of the islands

The Maldives is known for its pristine waters and fascinating aquatic life, but there’s something else, something unique, that you can enjoy when exploring the ocean — you can swim right under some of the islands! While most of the islands reach down to the seabed, some are actually concave, meaning that you can go underneath them! It definitely adds something different to any snorkelling experience!

6. The Maldives is predominantly a Muslim nation

The Maldives is one of the only two completely Islamic nations in the world. (The other is Saudi Arabia.) There are many mosques in areas where locals live, and the lilting call to prayer can be heard five times each day. This means that certain items are prohibited outside of tourist resorts, including alcohol and pork. Visitors should also dress conservatively when outside of the resorts. Public displays of affection are illegal.

7. Some islands are backpacker-friendly

While many people think of The Maldives as an exclusive and luxury getaway that will cost a fair amount of money, some islands are becoming more and more backpacker-friendly. It is now possible to visit The Maldives independently and find reasonably priced guesthouses. Sure, you’ll miss out on the awesome over-water bungalows, but you can still enjoy beautiful beaches at a snip of the price.

8. The Maldives is the world’s “lowest” country

things you should know maldives

Image credit: Falco Ermert

The Maldives is the lowest nation on the planet, and some of the islands are actually sinking because of rising water levels and climatic changes. The highest natural point throughout the country is likely not all that much taller than you — it stands at just 2.3 metres (7 feet and 7 inches) tall! Its small size makes it the lowest high point of any country on Earth.

Have interesting facts about your dream destination? Share the fun and let us know!

Also read: 6 Tips to Travel Maldives on the Cheap

About Author

Sarah W
Sarah W

Sarah W is a travelling cat-lover who enjoys exploring places that are a little bit quirky or away from headline attractions. Favourite things include delicious falafel, snuggling under a thick duvet, (badly) belting out karaoke at the top of her lungs, and, of course, her family, friends, and furry pets.

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