HistoryThe earliest written history of the Maldives is marked by the arrival of Sinhalese people, who were descended from the exiled Magadha Prince Vijaya from the ancient city known as Sinhapura in North East India. He and his party of several hundred landed in Sri Lanka, and some in the Maldives circa 543 to 483 BC.
Maldives history – The indigenous people of the Maldives are thought to be descended from different groups of ethnicity who migrated to the islands in ancient times. These include settlers from the shores of southern India and western Sri Lanka as well as some migrants from more northern regions of India. The language of the Maldivians is Dhivehi and the religion is Islam.
The Portuguese had a keen interest in the Maldives due to the availability of cowry shells, and ambergris, an important ingredient in perfumes, and had been approached by the formerly expelled Sultan, Hassan IX to help him regain his throne. Three attempts were repelled mainly due to Ali Rasgefaanu, who proved to be a brave and tough fighter. He became Sultan Ali VI but only for a few months as he was killed during another Portuguese attack, dying a martyr’s death.
The next 15 years saw the darkest period in Maldivian history when the Portuguese tried to enforce Christianity upon the islanders. Mohamed Thakurufaanu and his two brothers from the island of Utheemu, used a form of guerilla warfare for eight long years, during which one of the brothers was caught and beheaded. Their strategy was to land on an island at night, kill the Portuguese in a surprise attack and sail off before dawn. Thakurufaanu sought the help of the Malabari, killed the Portuguese leader Andreas Andre, locally known as Andiri Andirin, and recaptured Malé. He was made Sultan and reigned for 12 years forming a trained standing army, introducing coins, improving trade and religious observance and founding a dynasty that lasted for 132 years.
Beginning in the 1950s, political history in Maldives was largely influenced by the British military presence in the islands. In 1954 the restoration of the sultanate perpetuated the rule of the past. Two years later, the United Kingdom obtained permission to reestablish its wartime RAF Gan airfield in the southernmost Addu Atoll, employing hundreds of locals. Maldives granted the British a 100-year lease on Gan that required them to pay £2,000 a year, as well as some 440,000 square metres on Hitaddu for radio installations. This served as a staging post for British military flights to the Far East and Australia, replacing.
The Maldives gained independence on July 26, 1965.Three years later a republic was declared with Prime Minister Ibrahim Nasir as the first president. Small as it is the Maldives has always maintained independence and a strong unity despite influences and threats from outside. They are now an internationally renowned country, a member of the UN, WHO, SAARC, Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement and others and play an important role in advocating the security of small nations and the protection of the environment.