The Maldive Islands lie close to India and SriLanka but Maldivian society virtually unknown to the outside world. Maldivianhistory goes back to the 12th Century when the Islands, under theinfluence of Arabian traders, converted from Buddhism to become an Islamicsultanate. The Islands are distinct from other South Asian nations by having ahomogeneous population with its own language and script and a very high levelof literacy, as well as the absence of caste, and an open marriage structure,where having been married to a number of different partners is considerednormal for both women and men.
A present the islands are known as a “Paradisedestination” for tourists with luxury resorts and a yearly receipt of more thanhalf a million tourists. However, tourist resorts are exclusively found onuninhabited islands and as a consequence holiday visitors, diplomats,researchers and journalists only experience the capital and tourist islands – aminimal and atypical part of Maldivian society.
Presently the Maldives are threatened by a risein sea level due to expected global warming. More immediate threats are abreak-down of society caused by a growing economic and demographic imbalanceprecipitated by uncontrolled tourismgrowth and the influx of lowly-paid foreign workers, leading to socialinequality, unemployed youth, narcotics related criminality and growing Islamicfundamentalism.
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