The Maldives


The Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. Since 1978, President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM - currently in his sixth term in office - has dominated the islands' political scene.

Following riots in the capital Male in August 2004, the president and his government pledged to embark upon democratic reforms, including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Progress has been slow, however, and many promised reforms have been delayed indefinitely. Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago. (The World Factbook)


  • 1153: Islam was adopted after the visit of a Muslim saint

  • 1513: Male attacked by the Portuguese from their colony in Goa, India. They built a fort in 1518. The Portuguese were thrown out shortly afterwards.

  • 1558: Male captured again by the Portuguese who remained there until they were all killed by the Maldivian Hero, Muhammad Takurufanu.

  • 1609: Male was attacked by pirates who killed the Sultan and caused considerable damage.

  • 1631: The Portuguese attempted to storm Male but failed and were driven off with great losses.

  • 1649: Further attempt to take Male by Portuguese, driven off by heavy cannon fire from the fort.

  • 1752: Male attacked by the Ali Raja of Malabar in a fleet of ships. After setting fire to many of the buildings and ransacking the palace, the pirates stayed for a few months until the Maldivians under the leadership of Hassan Manikufanu threw them out. The Ali Raja continued to lay siege to Male until eventually driven away with the help of a fleet of French Men O'War under the command of Monsieur Termellier. He was known with affection by the Maldivians as Moustri Mili and is buried on Male.

  • 1761: A further assault by the fleet of Ali Raja which was beaten off by a brave attack using "dhonis".

  • 1818-19 A great famine occurred all over the islands and a massive tornado struck devastating many islands, homes and boats.

  • 1835: The first survey of the islands was undertaken by the British Admiralty under the command of Robert Moresby.

  • 1887: The Maldives and Great Britain signed an agreement which gave the country the status of a protected state.

  • 1932: The first written constitution of the Maldives was proclaimed.

  • 1953: First Republic declared.

  • 1953: Republic dissolved and the Sultanate re-established

  • 1965: End of British agreement. Independence and entry into the United Nations.

  • 1968: Declaration of second republic

  • 1976: British complete withdrawal of all forces from the South of the country.

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