Travel Literature

While the Maldives has been covered in some detail by photography and nature guides, there's still precious little of any literary merit written about the place. This is perhaps unsurprising given the sun, sand and sea nature of most travel here, but the following titles are definitely worth a look. Rudie H Kuiter's Photo Guide to Fishes of the Maldives is an indispensable book for divers and snorkellers, detailing some 700 species that live on the reefs of the country, all beautifully...

Literature

Despite the unique Maldivian script that dates from the 1600s, most Maldivian myths and stories are from an oral tradition and have only recently appeared in print. Many are stories of witchcraft and sorcery, while others are cautionary tales about the evils of vanity, lust and greed, and the sticky fates of those who transgressed. Some are decidedly weird and depressing, and don't make good bedtime reading for young children. Novelty Press has published a small book called Mysticism in the...

Southern Tourism Zone

Vilig ivarufinolhu Dhiguvarufinolhu H13 - D9 O Magoodhoo Magoodhoofinolhu Dharaboodhoo Mi ni ra asga Ii Thilal Valla-Ihohi Bodufushi Valla Maafushi f To Male' (52km) Male' International Airport (55km) Gongaleehuraa Seedheehuraa Kekuraalhoveli- built during the reign of Sultan Mohammed Ibn Abdullah (1153-66). It is made of dressed stone and the interior is decorated with carved woodwork. It's possible that the stones were recycled from the ruins of earlier, pre-Islamic structures. Thor...

Quality Tourism Strategy

The first Maldivian resorts were basic beach huts made of local materials. Early visitors loved them, but the local economy didn't benefit much, environmental problems loomed, and the cultural impact was seen as a real threat, especially as the islands initially attracted pot-smoking, free-loving hippies rather than the smarter, more conservative crowd you'll find here today. In 1978 when President Gayoom came to power, the country adopted a strategy based on 'quality tourism', which is...

Drinks

The only naturally occurring fresh water in the Maldives is rainwater, which is stored in natural underground aquifers beneath each island. This is quite a feat, and water conservation has always been extremely important in Maldivian culture, to the extent that the Maldives Tourism Law states that no water resources may be diverted from an inhabited island to supply a resort. All resorts have their own desalinating plants to keep visitors supplied with their (by local standards incredibly...

Resorts

Raa Atoll is home to just the one resort -many more are planned but the combination of tourism downturn and the tsunami have held up a lot of development projects. You are truly remote at the Meedhupparu Island Resort (Meedhupparu island 0 6587700 www .meedhupparu.com full board s d t USS210 250 335 airport transfer by speed boat 4hr, USS170, by seaplane 45min, US 300 215 rooms (E) H)), the only island resort in the whole of Raa Atoll and Meedhupparu does not disappoint, with its gorgeous wide...

Women In Society Aishath Velezinee

In the 14th century, long before the call for equality took momentum, the Maldives were ruled by women. Three queens reigned one, Sultana Khadija, held the throne for 33 years from 1347 to 1379. The shift from monarchy to a constitutional republic barred women from the post of President, and this fundamental clause is retained in the 1997 Constitution. Traditional lifestyle, especially in the islands away from the capital, dictated gender-specific roles for women and men. Women tended to their...

Water Water Everywhere

Ensuring a supply of fresh water has always been imperative for small island communities. Rainwater quickly soaks into the sandy island soil and usually forms an underground reservoir of fresh water, held in place by a circle of salt water from the surrounding sea. Wells can be dug to extract the fresh ground water, but if water is pumped out faster than rainfall replenishes the supply, then salty water infiltrates from around the island and the well water becomes brackish. Decaying organic...

The Th Century

In 1932 the Maldives' first constitution was imposed upon Sultan Shamsuddin. Until this time the Maldives had always had an unwritten constitution much like the British, and historical records show that The Story ofMohamed Thakurufciln, by Hussain Salahuddeen, tells the story of the Maldives' greatest hero, who liberated the people from the Portuguese. As the man who led a successful revolution against foreign domination, and then as the leader of the newly liberated nation, Mohammed...

Northern Atollsif

The least developed region of the Maldives, the Northern Atolls are pure tropical island escapism territory. While traditionally the tourism zone has only ever included the three atolls directly to the north of North Male' Atoll, there are a further six even further north that are gradually opening up to tourism as new islands are earmarked for development by the cautious central government. These atolls remain almost totally unknown by foreigners, and this is a great place to visit for a taste...

Hulhumale

One fascinating half-day trip from Male' is to easily accessible Hulhumale' - or, as many people see it - the future of the Mal dives. Here, on the other side of the airport, 1.8 sq km of reef has been built up to create a brand new and entirely manmade island -the first phase of an ambitious project to relieve the pressure of growth on Male'. Sand and coral were dug up from the lagoon and pumped into big heaps on the reef top. Then bulldozers pushed the rubble around to form a quadrilateral of...

Local Beliefs

On the islands, people still fear jinnis, the evil spirits that come from the sea, land and sky. They are blamed for everything that can't be explained by religion or education. To combat jinnis there are fandhita, which are the spells and potions provided by a local hakeem medicine man , who is often called upon when illness strikes, if a woman fails to conceive, or if the fishing catch is poor. The hakeem might cast a curing spell by writing phrases from the Quran on strips of paper and...

Mid range

This type of accommodation in Male' starts at around US 50 for singles or doubles including breakfast, and offers much better standards than the budget places. Most rooms will have air-con, a phone and hot water in the bathroom, and the better ones will have a TV. You might get a discount at some of these places if you stay more than a few days. Extra Haven Guesthouse Map p94 Igl 3327453 fax3325362 s d with fan USS30 40, with air-con USS40 50 K In the back streets at the east end of town, Extra...

Whale Submarine

The Whale Submarine Map p94 Igl 3333939 www.submarinesmaidives.com.mv Medhuzuyaarai Magu adult child family USS75 38 170 can hardly be described as a sight of Male', but it's a popular excursion and departs from a submarine dock just off the western side of Male'. First things first, this is not a submarine for whale watching - its name is slightly misleading. It is, in fact, a submarine for looking at life on a reef. It's hard to recommend for divers, as the trip can't really compare to a real...

Haa Alif

Traditionally known as lhavandhippolhu and North Thiladhunmathee Atolls, the very northern tip of the Maldives is generally known to one and all as Haa Alif Atoll, even though this refers to an administrative district that actually comprises the small, trapezoid shaped lhavandhippolhu Atoll and the northern tip of North Thiladhunmathee Atoll, which together have 16 inhabited islands and a population of just over 14,000. On Minicoy, the largest island of the Lakshadweep Islands, people speak a...

Also In South Male Atoll

Anantara Dhigufinolu island 3341708 www.anantara.com 110 rooms gl S S Still a full-scale building site when we visited, the Thai Anantara group will have opened its first resort in the Maldives by the time you read this and it promises to set people talking. The beautiful island, previously a fairly downmarket resort, has been razed to the ground and is being built from scratch. The beach villas and water bungalows we saw were stunning and we fully expect this to become a big success in the...

Food Glossary

Any substantial meal, with rice and roshi, is called long eats, and might Lonely Planet Publications FOOD amp DRINK Eat Your Words 87 garudia the staple diet offish soup, often taken with rice, lime and chilli kandukukulhu a special tuna curry mas fried fish usually refers to skipjack tuna or bonito mashuni amp hanakurimas dried, tinned, fried or cold fish mixed with coconut, onion, chilli and spices rihakuru garudia boiled down to a salty sauce or paste Short eats hedhikaa is the selection of...

Glossary

Animator - scary extroverted person employed in some resorts to promote group activities and 'good times'. Be afraid. atoll - ring of coral reefs or coral islands, or both, surrounding a lagoon the English word 'atoll' is derived from the Divehiatolu atolu verin - atoll chief bai bala - traditional game where one team tries to tag another inside a circle bashi - traditional girls' team game played with a tennis ball, racket and net BCD - buoyancy control device a vest that holds airtanks on the...

Rise Rise Of The Atolls

A coral reef or garden is not, as many people believe, formed of multicoloured marine plants. It is a living colony of coral polyps - tiny, tentacled creatures that feed on plankton. Coral polyps are invertebrates with sac-like bodies and calcareous or horny skeletons. After extracting calcium deposits from the water around them, the polyps excrete tiny, cup-shaped, limestone skeletons. These little guys can make mountains. A coral reef is the rock-like aggregation of millions of these polyp...

Grand Friday Mosque Islamic Centre

The golden dome of this impressive mosque Map p94 dominates the skyline of Male' and has become something of a symbol for the city. Set back off the main square, Jumhooree Maidan, and opposite the sinister National Security Service Headquarters, this is the biggest mosque in the country. Opened in 1984, and built with help from the Gulf States, Pakistan, Brunei and Malaysia, the Grand Friday Mosque is striking in its plainness, built in white marble and virtually free from decoration. From a...

Maldives Resort Ratings

Each resort is given a number out of three for how it scores on each front, three being the very highest standard in its field. A zero means that the resort has absolutely nothing worth mentioning on a subject for example if it doesn't accept children, it gets a zero for children's activities. C Social Life H Diving D Pampering I Snorkelling E Children's Activities J Water Sports Resort A B C D Alimatha Aquatic 3 2 2 1 Banyan Tree 3 3 1 3 Club Med Kani 3 1 3 1 Club Rannalhi 3 2 3 1 Cocoa Island...

The Magnificent Tetrapod

The installation of tetrapod walls around much of Male' saved it from the huge potential devastation of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. Tetrapods are concrete blocks with four fat legs, each approximately 1m long, sticking out like the four corners of a tetrahedron. These blocks can be stacked together in rows and layers so they interlock together to form a wall several metres high, looking like a giant version of a child's construction toy. A tetrapod breakwater has gaps that allow sea water...