What You Need To Know
Maldives officially the Republic of Maldives is an island country and archipelago in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of India and Sri Lanka. The chain of twenty six atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll to the Addu Atoll. The capital is Malé, traditionally called the “King’s Island”.
Historically linked with the Indian subcontinent, Maldives is a Muslim-majority country. From the mid-sixteenth century colonial powers dominated the islands: Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain. The islands gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965, becoming a republic in 1968. The country is ruled by a president and its government is authoritarian. The Maldivian economy is dominated by tourism and fishing. The World Bank classifies the country as having an upper middle income economy.
- The currency of the Maldives is called the Rufiyah, which is linked to the dollar at around 12.75 Rufiyah to the dollar.
However, most resorts and many local islands will accept the USdollar (bring small denominations such as $1, $5 and $10) as payment. Most larger resorts also take Euros, pounds sterling, yen and other major currencies – so check with your resort before converting money into local currency because it is usually not necessary. If you try to pay your room bill at large resorts in Rufiyah, the resort is likely to convert it back to dollars, so you effectively lose out twice on the exchange rate.
- Banks are located in Male and some of the larger inhabited islands. You won’t 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. Do be aware that change for items purchased on local islands will be given in Rufiya. Some resort islands will cash travellers’ 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 credit card or cash at the end of your stay. Some people prefer to keep track of what they are spending and settle their room bill every few days. Tipping on resorts, again at the end of, or during, your stay is also in USD and local islands price souvenirs in, and seem to actively want, USD rather than rufiyah.
Male airport prices everything in USD as well, so you won’t need local currency there. Rufiya are not readily negotiable outside the country, so reconvert any leftovers at the bank counter in the airport when you leave.
Maldives, the sunny side of life is blessed with magical and breathtaking displays of sunshine for the better part of a year. Similar to tropical countries, the Maldives enjoys a dry and wet season. Conveniently, the hot and humid weather is complemented with cooling sea breezes and periodic rain.
The dry season or the Northeast Monsoon locally known as “Iruvai” continues from January to March. While the wet season or the Southwest Monsoon locally known as “Hulhangu” progress from Mid-May to November. Traditionally the natives used a calendar called “nakaiy” to identify weather developments.
Amidst the two seasons, there is little or no change in the temperature. This makes every season the best season to visit the Maldives. Likewise packing for a holiday in the Maldives is undemanding due to the uniform weather forecasts.
On average the daily temperature may fluctuate from 31 °C during the day to 23 °C in the night. The highest temperature ever recorded in the Maldives was 36.8 °C. Whereas the lowest temperature ever recorded in the Maldives was 17.2 °C.
The dry season is the season for admirers and enthusiasts of the sun. Throughout the dry season you are assured of beautiful and bright sunshine. Accordingly the seas are serene with clear blue skies. There is only sporadic rain during this season. Hence, this is the ultimate season for sunbathing, sunset watching and scuba diving.
The wet season showers torrential rain to the Maldives. Occasional thunderstorms and strong winds are the norm of this season. Consequently large waves and swells are generated in the ocean. As a result, the wet season is the most favourable occasion for surfers to showcase their flair in the great surf spots of the country. Nevertheless, the sun announces its presence on interludes, even during the wet season by bursting forth from the cloudy skies, dispensing rays of bright sunshine.
Dhivehi is the main language spoken in Maldives. The language is widely used for conversing with people. Since, it involves the use of many English, Hindi and Arabic words, it seems to resemble various languages spoken in Sri Lanka, South East Asia and North India. Read on to know more about the common languages of Maldives
In the earlier times, people spoke “Elu”, a language that was basically a form of ancient Singhalese language. This language underwent a lot of transformations and gave rise to the Dhivehi language of today. Dhivehi is written from left to right. In the olden days, the language was inscribed on the copper plates, popularly known as the “Loamaafaanu”.
Other languages spoken in Maldives include English, which is also recognized as the second main language. Initially, Dhivehi was used as the medium of teaching in schools, but the need to promote higher education led to the conversion of syllabus in English. Now, English is widely spoken by the locals of Maldives.
Health and security
- Most resorts have a resident doctor, or share one with another nearby resort. However, if you are seriously unwell it will be necessary to go to Male, or to the nearest atoll capital with a hospital if you’re in a far-flung resort. The Maldivian health service relies heavily on doctors, nurses and dentists from overseas, and facilities outside the capital are very limited. The country’s main hospital is the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male. Male also has the ADK Private Hospital, which offers high-quality care at high prices, but as it’s important to travel with medical insurance to the Maldives, the cost shouldn’t be too much of a worry. The capital island of each atoll has a government hospital or at least a health centre – these are being improved, but for any serious problem you’ll have to go to Male.
Most visits to Maldives are trouble free. The most common problems faced by visitors are lost and stolen passports, and swimming and diving related accidents, Petty crime occurs. Take care of your valuables and other personal possessions.
- Everyones bags are checked at customs physically, if you are carrying any alcohol,pork, religious articles of other faiths, souveniurs of other faiths, many tourist from sri lanka had Budha souvenirs, all these would be taken from you at the airport, however you will be able to collect them on leaving the Maldives .
- The Maldives is blessed with beautiful coral reefs. Unfortunately its beaches are plagued with broken bits of coral that you can step on. Watch you step and/or wear some footwear if you can. These nasty bits of nature can ruin your holiday with a gashed foot or cut toes. It’s a shame really. Just be careful and you should be fine.
- No boozing is allowed in the capital Male, so don’t even think about taking any booze in there. The penalties are severe. If you want have a drink the resorts are all yours, the regulations don’t apply to the resorts.
- Fish Head aka Mushimasmingali Thila: is a world-renowned dive site famous for featuring a plethora of gray reef sharks. The sharp vertical reef has multiple ledges and hosts a diverse population of additional marine life such as sea fans, anemones, black corals, fusiliers, Napoleons, and schools of feeding barracuda.
- Banana Reef : this diverse marine area features a variety of geographical features such as cliffs, caves and overhangs, as well as a variety of marine life such as sharks, barracudas, gropers, jackfish, morays, manta rays, and bluefish snappers. You can scuba dive and plum the depths of the coral reef or you can get a view from the top and snorkel above the reeftop./li>