The Republic of Maldives, most commonly known as the Maldives, is a small nation in the Indian Ocean made up of 1,192 islands. Of these islands, 200 are inhibited and 97 contain resorts for tourists. You may have heard of Maldives as one of the most popular tourist destinations thanks to the pristine beaches, delicious seafood, and relaxed local vibe. But there’s so much more to learn and discover about this beautiful island country. Read on for 10 fascinating facts about the Maldives.
1. Maldivian police once detained a coconut
You may not think that a tropical fruit can be responsible for a crime, but the Maldivian police seem to think otherwise. In 2013, a coconut was kept in custody because locals believed it may have been responsible for rigging votes during the presidential election. The fruit was found close to a polling station and had a verse from the Koran written on it. Many Maldivians believe in the power of black magic and were suspicious that the fruit was being used to influence the voting. The police brought in a white magician to assess the coconut and the fruit was found innocent, a fun fact about Maldives.
2. The weekend in the Maldives falls on Friday and Saturday
In most places, the weekend falls on Saturday and Sunday. This is because Sunday is the day of worship in Christianity, the dominant religion in the west. The Maldives is an Islamic country and in Islam, Muslims worship on Friday. Traditionally, the Islamic weekend falls on Thursday and Friday, but most Muslim countries like the Maldives follow the Friday and Saturday weekend schedule to be able to do more business with western countries.
3. The sand on Maldives’ beaches doesn’t get hot
Have you ever been to the beach and had a hard time walking on the very hot sand? That won’t be a problem in the Maldives. The sand on the islands in the Maldives is made of very tiny pieces of coral. This kind of sand doesn’t get hot, so you can walk barefoot even in the summer and not hurt the soles of your feet, an interesting Maldives fact.
4. Thilafushi in the Maldives is an island filled with garbage
When you think of the Maldives, you’re probably not thinking about a beach completely covered end to end in trash. Thilafushi was Maldives’ main dumpsite. Because of the many tourists that visit the islands each year, a lot of waste is generated and it became difficult for the country to dispose of all of it safely. So they turned Thilafushi, a shallow coral reef lagoon, into an island for garbage. But the massive amounts of flies it attracted and the toxic waste that was making its way into the lagoon was badly affecting the island. The government finally banned throwing more waste into Thilafushi in 2011.
5. The Maldives is home to the world’s first underwater hotel
An interesting fact about Maldives is that 99% of its territory is made of water so it makes sense that the island has several underwater establishments. The very first underwater hotel in the world is The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. The hotel, which is located 16 feet below sea-level, features concave glass ceilings that let you see the fish swimming around the hotel and the corals decorating the ocean floor. Underwater restaurants are also a popular tourist attraction in the Maldives.
6. The resort islands in the Maldives are some of the safest tourist destinations
The smaller islands in the Maldives generally have very low crime rates. This is mostly because the islands are very small, surrounded by water, and are often restricted. It’s easy for security teams to monitor the island and difficult for potential criminals to find a hiding place.
7. It is the world’s smallest Muslim country
With a total land area of 298.7 square kilometers, Maldives is both the smallest country in the continent of Asia and the smallest Islamic country in the world, a fun fact about Maldives. The influence of Islam is present throughout the country. For instance, the locals are not allowed to drink alcohol so it can only be found in the airport and resorts.
8. The president of Maldives held a cabinet meeting underwater
In 2009, the then-president of Maldives organized an underwater meeting with politicians to raise awareness about the dangers of climate change and the rising sea level. The Maldives is the world’s lowest and flattest island country, making it the most at risk of being swallowed by the ocean as the polar ice caps continue to melt. Then-president Mohammed Nasheed and the Maldivian cabinet wore scuba gear and used a combination of hand signals and whiteboards to communicate during the 30-minute meeting held 6 meters below sea-level.
9. The Maldives has a glow-in-the-dark beach
Vaadhoo Island in the Maldives has a beach that shimmers with tiny blue lights in the water at night. Bioluminescent phytoplanktons are aquatic organisms that emit their own light. The famous beach on Vaadhoo Island, known as the “Sea of Stars”, owes its magical phenomenon to the bioluminescent phytoplankton that fill the water and make it glow.
10. Maldivians used to use shells as currency
The island nation is so abundant in marine resources that the Maldivians once used cowry shells as a method of payment. In the 13th century, cowry shells were a widely used form of currency in Asia, Oceania, and Africa. Collecting the shells was a popular form of business on the island; shells would be transported from the Maldives to other nations. The cowry shell trade reached its peak around the 16th century with many European countries participating, but the shells were eventually rendered useless when copper coins were introduced in the 18th century.
The Republic of Maldives is an interesting island nation with a fascinating history, a wealth of dynamic marine life, and many unique traditions and attractions. Unfortunately, rising sea levels from climate change put this country in danger of sinking, so it’s important to reduce our carbon footprint and contribute positively to the environment.
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