Population: 319 096 inhabitants ((July 2013)
Conventional Name: Maldives
Local Name: Maldives
Chief of State: Mohamed Nasheed
Head of: President Mohamed Nasheed
January 1: New Year's Day
January 24: National Day
February 4: Mawlid al-Nabi (Birth of the Prophet)
March 29: The Day Maldives Embraced Islam
July 26: Independence Day
July 20: Ramadan begins
August 19: Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan ends)
November 3: Victory Day
October 24: Hajj Day
November 11: Republic Day
October 26: Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
November 15: Islamic New Year
The official and common language is Dhivehi, an Indo-European language having some similarities with Elu, the ancient Sinhalese language. English is used widely in commerce and increasingly in government schools.
Visa - Do I need a visa to travel to the Maldives?
No prior visa is needed to enter Maldives and all tourists are given a free 30 days visa on arrival. Tourist visa can be extended up to 90 days for a fee of approx. USD90 and upon approval.
Currency / Exchange rate / Banking
The currency of the Maldives is called the Rufiyaah, which is linked to the dollar at around 12.75 Rufiyaah to the dollar. Banks are all 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 not likely 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 travellers' cheques for dollars, but will charge you a sturdy 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 travellers' cheques or credit card at the end of your stay. Everything is priced in dollars.
Tipping is not compulsory in the Maldives as 10% service charge is added to everything - but given the low salaries earned by the staff and the brilliant level of service generally offered, it is a nice gesture to help the staff of resorts to earn some extra money. Over the years the tipping culture has changed in the Maldives, mainly due to European visitors giving changeable amounts of cash as tips.
The standard time zone in the Maldives is UTC/GMT +5 hours.
The working week in the Maldives runs from Sunday to Thursday. Friday and to a lesser extent Saturday are rest days and it’s advisable to avoid Male’ and local islands on Fridays as hardly any shops are open. On work days, businesses operate from 8am or 9am until 5pm or 6pm, but this varies. Shops in Male’ will often stay open until around 10pm or 11pm, and some will shut in the heat of the afternoon – from midday until 3pm. Government offices are open Sunday to Thursday from 7.30am to 2pm. During Ramazan, hours are from 9am to 1.30pm.
The dry season begins at the end of November, which culminates in the northeast monsoon and brings dry weather and sunshine until the beginning of the following April. There is an probable 8 hours of sunshine everyday during the dry season, during which the water temperature remains high at 25’C. Rain is minimal. Temperatures usually register at approximately 29;C during this season, although the level of humidity is greatly diminished and this provides a far more comfortable stay for visitors from less tropical climbs.
A great deal of rainfall and strong winds occur from April until the end of October and temperatures range from 27-33’C. The majority of the rainfall is during the months of June and August, where visitors are also most likely to experience storms and high winds.
Dengue fever, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, occurs in Maldivian villages but is not a major risk on resort islands. Mild diarrhea may occur due to the change of water and food as well as the humid climate. Dehydration is the main danger with any diarrhoea. Fluid replacement remains the mainstay in managing this condition. Heat exhaustion is a main concern for those who don’t acclimatize from the moment they get to the islands. It is best to drink enough fluids, mostly water and not to do too physically demanding activities on the first days. Salt deficiency is characterised by fatigue, lethargy, headaches, giddiness and muscle cramps; salt tablets may help, but adding extra salt to your food is better.
The waters itself may hold some health and injury issues. Through the years, the island health officials have recorded events such as sea urchins that break off on the corals and are quite hard to remove from feet or hands. Anemone stings as well s coral cuts and stings may occur. Any coral cuts or stings should be washed well with fresh water and then treated with antiseptic creams. Sharks, Stingrays and Stonefish are known to attack if they are disturbed. Nearly all resorts have a local doctor. Male will also have professional doctors on call at the hospitals.
Water & Electricity
Potable water is a precious resource in the Maldives. However, hotels rated three-star or better have their own water filtering systems (their water is considered safe to drink) and bottled water is cheap and readily available. As for electricity, 220-240 Volts cycles; rounded two-prong plugs are used (European plugs). Transformers and adapters are widely available.
The Maldives is known to be an island getaway. However, Male and the other towns are significantly Islamic. That means one should take care in packing. In the resorts and on the beaches, beach wear, swimming suits and summer clothes are the norm. There wouldn’t be any particular limitations to what to wear. In the city and towns, one would need to be slightly conservative when planning on entering Islamic monuments or museums. Women will have to wear shirts that cover their shoulders and upper arms. They should also choose trousers or longer skirts for these outings. Men should consider trousers and shirts that cover their shoulders and upper arms.
Like in any country, it is advisable that one asks permission before photographing strangers. Ask people if they mind before photographing them. Muslim women will not appreciate being photographed without permission.
As you would have guessed, being an island destination, coconut is a predominant food in the Maldives. They use the milk, the oil, and grate it for serving dishes. Fish makes up for most dishes served in the resorts. Tuna, Bigeye, Scan, Waho and Mackerel Scad are the most common fish served either friend or boiled.
Curries are very popular dishes, whether made with fish, meat or chicken. Coconut milk is a main ingredient in curries. There are vegetable curries as well as green unripe bananas that are worked into the dishes.
Potatoes, rice and sweet potato make up starch in the diet of the Maldives. Certain pine fruits are eaten as fruit.
As the Maldives is a Muslim country, alcohol is banned for the local population. However, nearly all resorts and liveaboard boats are licensed to serve alcohol, usually with a abrupt markup.