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Maldives has a population of over 300,000, mostly a mix of Indo-Aryan, Arabic and Sinhalese descent. History suggests that these islands have been inhabited for over 3,000 years. The earliest inhabitants are believed to have come from the Indus Valley civilization, followed by travellers on the Silk Route. The people are known to be warm and friendly, generous and hospitable.

The culture of Maldives is rich and diverse with influences absorbed from several countries and cultures across the world over many centuries. East African and South Asian influence can be seen in drums, dance and music. Bodu Beru is the most popular form of music and dance, and Bandiyaa Jehun a native dance performed by young women. Although Western pop and Indian music are popular here, traditional forms still survive and enthral viewers.

Many of the Maldivian traditions are related to the sea. Women play a major role in society while men spend most of their day out at the sea fishing. South Asian influence is also seen in traditional Maldivian food.

The official language, Dhivehi, is spoken in all parts of Maldives. It is a blend of Arabic, Sinhalese, Urdu, Tamil, English and Hindi, owing to the historical links with settlers, seafarers and traders. Besides, English is widely understood and spoken by Maldivian, which makes it easy for visitors to communicate and get around. English is also extensively used in business, the commercial sector, and government offices. The other languages are mostly used within tourist areas. The Maldivian script, known as Thaana, is written from left to right.

Except for a few brief spells, the country has remained independent throughout its history. A strong community spirit and an ability to rise to the challenges that they have faced have helped the people remain free. Their lifestyle shows an industriousness and ingenuity that makes the most of their limited natural resources, and a remarkable adaptability to changing circumstances. These are traits, which have helped Maldivian thrive amidst the changing cultural and political tides that have washed the shores of these islands from time immemorial.
The functional literacy rate in Maldives is 98%, and schools largely follow the British system of education.
Maldives embraced Islam in 1153 or thereabout, and has since remained an Islamic nation for over 800 years. According to legends, Abul Barakhat Al-Bar Bari, an Arabian traveller, first brought Islam to this island country. However, historical remains dating back to 400 BC suggest that Buddhism was widely prevalent among the inhabitants before the introduction of Islam.

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