history of Maldives
were the first settlers of Maldives? It is a difficult question to answer
because all traces of their lives in these islands were lost a long time ago.
There are the remains of ancient Buddhist temples dating from the 2nd century
A.D. and some materials from even earlier times. Most exciting is the evidence
gained from the dispersal of cowrie shells from the Maldives to many countries
of the ancient world at a period further back in time, indicating a much earlier
date for the peopling of these islands. Maldive cowrie shells called cypraea
moneta, dating back to more than 2000 B.C., have been found in China and the
Middle East. Maldives was the only source for this type of cowrie, and was
sometimes called the "Cowrie Islands" by Arab travellers. The Chinese knew that
these shells originated in islands in the Indian Ocean.
Maldives History in a glimpse
Maldives, before the 16th Century Legend has it that the
first Maldivian was converted to Islam by a travelling
merchant in 1153. When IBN BATTUTA arrived in 1342, the
entire population adhered to Islam. Ibn Battuta not only
stayed on the island group for almost a year, but
married into the Sultana's family, the Maldives at that
time ruled by a woman, Sultana KHADEEJA REHENDHI
Another travel account of the Maldives is provided to us
by Frenchman FRANCOIS PYRARD, who was shipwrecked here
in 1602. According to him, Male was trading with the
Malabar coast, Bengal and Aceh.
Maldives, 16th Century
Only a few years after Vasco da Gama had discovered
the sea route to India, the Portuguese, under FRANCISCO
DE ALBUQUERQUE, established their Indian Ocean Empire.
In 1503 the Portuguese sank the first Maldivian ships;
in 1517 they signed a treaty with Sultan Kalhu Muhammad,
which permitted them to establish a trading post in
Male. In 1518 the Portuguese took Male; they were
expelled in 1521. In order to reinstate an ousted
Sultan, the Portuguese conquered Mahe again in 1558,
ruling the islands until 1573 when the Portuguese
garrison was ousted.
In 1645, the V.O.C. (Dutch East India Company)
established a protectorate over the islands, which
lasted until 1796, when the Dutch/V.O.C. claims were
ceded to Britain/the EIC.
In 1796, Britain (the EIC) had the Dutch (the VOC)
claim over the Maldives ceded to her. In 1887 a treaty
was signed with the local Sultan, which confirmed the
Maldives' status as a British protectorate.
In 1887, a PROTECTORATE was formally established.
The Maldives were placed under the administration of
Ceylon at Colombo. In 1906 the first postage stamps for
the Maldive islands were issued.
bIn 1931, the population of the Maldives numbered
79,281, of whom 6,100 resided in the capital Male.
Formally the Maldives were a British PROTECTORATE.
Yet, the British administration interfered little in
domestic affairs. In 1947 India, Ceylon and Pakistan
became independent; the Maldives, which remained
British, in the eyes of the latter gained in strategic
importance. In 1956 the British airbase on the island of
Gan was extended.
Prime Minister IBRAHIM NASIR pursued an obstructionist
policy in regard to the British base; this caused a
rebellion on islands the population of which depended on
jobs offered by the base; the rebellion was suppressed
Independence, since 1965
In a 1965 treaty, Britain recognized the
independence of the Republic of the Maldives. In 1968 a
referendum abolished the Sultanate (Sultan Mohammed
Fared Didi) and the REPUBLIC was proclaimed. IBRAHIM
NASIR became the first president. In 1978, Nasir fled
the country and MAUMOON ABDUL GAYOOM was elected
president. Coup attempts in 1980 and 1988 failed.
In 1995 the Maldives had 224,644 inhabitants, 62,973 of
whom resided in the capital MALE. The population is
virtually exclusively Muslim. Main export products are
fish and fish products; the country with its many
beautiful beaches recently attracts a growing number of
The Maldives Olympic Committee was formed in 1985 and
recognized by IOC the same year.
Possibly the first settlers
arrive on the islands.
Conversion to Islam; start
of the sultanate.
The Maldivian nation enters
a dark era under the Portuguese that lasts for
approximately 15 years.
Portuguese rule comes to an
end after a successful Maldivian uprising.
The Ali Rajas attack the
archipelago, kidnap the sultan and take over the islands.
Their victory is short-lived and after a few weeks the
Maldivians gain their independence again.
Maldives becomes a British
The first constitution is
drawn but discarded in 1939.
Maldives becomes a republic
after abolishing the sultanate, but the country reverts
back to the sultanate shortly afterwards.
The British lease the
island of Gan in the southern-most atoll of Seenu (Addu).
Ibrahim Nasir is elected
prime minister. He changes the conditions of the lease on Gan and demands that the British stop employing local
Objecting to Nasirís
changes, the inhabitants of the three southernmost atolls
protest against the government. They form the United
Suvadive Islands and elect a president, Abdulla Afif
Nasir dispatches gunboats
to end the rebellion in the southern atolls. Afif Didi
other leaders are banished to different islands.
The British relinquish
protectorate status. Maldives becomes independent.
The second republic is
formed with Ibrahim Nasir as president.
The country is opened to
On 24th June a crowd
gathers to protest against the rising food prices. Nasir
orders the police to open fire.
Fearing for his life, Nasir
retires to Singapore. Abdul Gayyoom is elected the new
president. He denounces Nasirís regime and banishes its
An attempted coup against
coup Gayyoom fails and more people are banished including
Gayyoom is re-elected for
his third term of office. A few months later local
businessmen, aided by Sri Lankan mercenaries, try to
overthrow the government. The National Security Service
manages to apprehend the perpetrators.
President Abdul Gayyoom is
elected for the fourth term.
Gayyoom is elected for the fifth term.
President Abdul Gayyoom
is elected for the sixth term.
Chronology of events related to the history of Meedhoo