Name: Republic of Maldives
Capital: Male (80 000 inhabitants)
President: Mohamed Nasheed (since November 2008)
Area: 298,000 sq. km. The territory is divided into 22 atolls, which include 1,190 islands and islets. Only 200 of these islands are inhabited.
National Day: July 26 (Independence in 1965)
Location: Located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, southwest of India and Sri Lanka and just above the equator.
Population: about 385,000 inhabitants (2008 estimate).
Time: GMT + 5H
The flag: the green, red and white flag was created in 1965 when the Maldives gained independence from the British. It consists of a white crescent representing Islam, the green a symbol of success and peace and is framed in red, symbolizing the bloodshed in the quest for independence.
There are no mandatory vaccines; however, as with any trip, make sure you are up to date on vaccines. The Department of Health advises vaccination against hepatitis A and typhoid. Check before you departure for the Maldives if the area you are visiting requires a yellow fever vaccination.
There are no risks of malaria as there are no reported cases in the Maldives.
The Maldives are well known for being a paradise for divers. If this is your case, you must provide a medical certificate before leaving. You will be asked on site during your dives.
The currency of the Maldives is called the Rufiyaah, which is linked to the dollar 1 USD = 12.75 MRF.
All resorts and many local islands accept US Dollars. It’s advisable to bring small denominations such as $1, $5 and $10 as payment. However most of the larger resorts also take Euros, Pounds Sterling, Yen and other major currencies - so check with your resort before converting money into local currency because you usually will not need to.
Banks are all located in Male and in some of the larger inhabited islands. You will not find banks or ATM machines at resorts or smaller local islands. Small shops on local islands are unlikely to be able to accept credit card payment for goods, so make sure you have enough cash to cover your shopping needs before you leave your resort. Some resort islands will cash travelers’ cheques for dollars, but will charge you a hefty commission.
Most resorts operate on a signing system, where you don't carry any cash. You sign for all items and then settle up with travelers’ cheques or credit card at the end of your stay.
If you are bringing traveler’s cheques get them in USD as everything is priced in dollars. Also tipping on resorts, again at the end of your stay, is in USD. Male airport prices everything in USD as well, so you won't need local currency there.
The majority of Maldivian holidays are based on the Islamic lunar calendar, so dates vary each year. During holidays you will not have service problem in hotels; you can thus travel during a festival period without any worries.
Ramadan: the fasting month of Ramadan is an important event which starts at a new moon and lasts for 28 days. Upcoming dates: August 1st, 2011, July 20th, 2012.
Kuda Eid: this holiday marks the end of Ramadan, with the advent of a new moon and the commencement of huge festivities.
Bodu Eid: the Feast of Sacrifice takes place 66 days after the end of Ramadan. On this occasion, many Muslims go on pilgrimage to Mecca.
National Day: Commemoration of the day when Mohammed and his follower Sultan Thakurufaanu overthrew the Portuguese in Male in 1578. National Day is celebrated on the first day of the third lunar month.
The following holidays are fixed:
New Year: January 1st
Independence Day: July 26 & 27, end of the British Protectorate (1965)
Victory Day: commemorates the failed coup d'etat by Sri Lankan mercenaries in 1988, November 3rd military parade.
Republic Day: commemorates the advent of the second republic, November 11, 1968. It is celebrated with great pomp in Male.
The official languages are Dhivehi and Maldivian, similar to the ancient form of Sinhala (Sri Lanka’s predominant language) called Sanskrit mixed with Hindi, English and Arabic. Dhivehi means island in Sanskrit, or language of the islanders. Maldivians will be only too happy to teach you their language.
About 4% of the population speaks English. It is widely spoken in Male, hotels and by people who have had a university education. English is widely spoken on the southerly Addu Atoll because of the British air base that is located there.
To call the Maldives from abroad, you dial 00 960 (country code) before the number. For international calls from The Maldives, you must dial 00 plus the country code number of the intended recipient (without the 0).
Two operators share competition in the Maldives: Dhiraagu, a joint venture between the government and the British company Cable & Wireless, and Wataniya, the Kuwaiti operator. SIM cards cost around $10. The coverage is good, except on some remote atolls. All resorts have the infrastructure to dial abroad and have an internet connection. Connection is very expensive: about 15 USD for 3 minutes of talk time.
While you are in the Maldives, here are some useful numbers in case of emergency:
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