Maldives or the Republic of Maldives is an island country located on the Indian Ocean to the south of India's Lakshwadeep Islands. The name Maldives was derived from the Sanskrit word, 'maldadvipa', meaning 'garland of islands'. The history of Maldives dates back as early as 2000 B.C.
Research has proved that the early settlers of this island country were the 'Redin', the first sun worshipping seafarers. The presence of mosques facing the sun is the biggest examples of this fact.
During the 4th century A.D. the Theravada Buddhism, became the dominant and major religion of the country. Islam, which is the present official religion of the country, was introduced in A.D. 1153. In ancient times the country was a major center for cowrie shells, a currency used in olden times in Asia and East Africa. The country was also a major trade center because of its location on the marine trade route on the Indian Ocean.
The country was governed as an independent Islamic Sultanate from 1153 to 1968. The importance of Arabs as traders in the 12th century can be considered as one of the primary reason, which led to the adoption of Islam as the main religion of the country. The Buddhist king converted to Islam and adopted the Sultan title. Since then the country has had 84 sultans and six Islamic dynasties until 1932 when the sultanate became elective.
Though mainly governed as an independent Islamic sultanate the country was however under colonial rule for a brief period. The country was a colony of the Portuguese in 1558, the Dutch in 1654 and the British from 1887 to 1965. In 1953 the country tried to form a republic, but without much result. The country however gained independence from the British on the 26th of July, 1965. Thereafter, the sultanate continued to operate for three years until in 1968, November 11th it was abolished and the country became a republic. The country from then onwards came to be known as the Republic of Maldives.
As far as modern history of Maldives is concerned, Tamil mercenaries, from Sri Lanka, invaded the country in the year 1988. However, with the help of the Indian government, the country overthrew these invaders and restored the government's rule in Male.
Maldives history gives one a clear picture about the country, its people and its cultural background.