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History of the Maldives

History of the Maldives

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The Maldives
Maldives
The Maldives , , officially Republic of Maldives , also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls oriented north-south off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and...

 is a nation consisting of 26 natural atolls, comprising 1192 islands

Historical setting


Since very ancient times, the Maldives were ruled by kings (Radun) and occasionally queens (Ranin).
Historically Maldives has had a strategic importance because of its location on the major marine routes of the Indian Ocean. Maldives' nearest neighbors are Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and India, both of which have had cultural and economic ties with Maldives for centuries. The Maldives provided the main source of cowrie shells, then used as a currency throughout Asia and parts of the East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

n coast.

After the 16th century, when European colonial powers took over much of the trade in the Indian Ocean, first the Portuguese, and then the Dutch, and the French occasionally meddled with local politics. However, these interferences ended when the Maldive became a British Protectorate in the 19th century and the Maldivian monarchs were granted a good measure of self-governance.

Maldives gained total independence from the British in 1965. However, the, continued to maintain an air base on the island of Gan
Gan
Gan may refer to:-Computing and telecommunications:*.gan, the file extension for documents created by GanttProject*Generic Access Network formerly known as Unlicensed Mobile Access *Global Area Network- Mythology :...

 in the southernmost atoll until 1976. The British departure in 1976 at the height of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 almost immediately triggered foreign speculation about the future of the air base. Apparently the Soviet Union made a move to request the use of the base, but the Maldives refused.

The greatest challenge facing the republic in the early 1990s was the need for rapid economic development and modernization, given the country's limited resource base in fishing, agriculture and tourism. Concern was also evident over a projected long-term rise in sea level, which would prove disastrous to the low-lying coral islands.

Early Age


Comparative studies of Maldivian oral, linguistic and cultural traditions and customs confirm that the first settlers were people from the southern shores of the neighboring subcontinent.

These first Maldivians didn't leave any archaeological remains. Their buildings were probably built of wood, palm fronds and other perishable materials, which would have quickly decayed in the salt and wind of the tropical climate. Moreover, chiefs or headmen didn't reside in elaborate stone palaces, nor did their religion require the construction of large temples or compounds.

The Buddhist Kingdom of Maldives


Despite being omitted or just mentioned briefly in most history books, the 1,400 year-long Buddhist period has a foundational importance in the history of the Maldives. It was during this period that the culture of the Maldives as we now know it both developed and flourished.

Buddhism probably spread to the Maldives in the third century BC, at the time of the Mauryan emperor Aśoka the Great, when it extended to the regions of Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Central Asia, beyond the Mauryas' northwest border, as well as South to the island of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and the Maldive Islands. Serious studies of the archaeological remains of the Maldives began with the work of H. C. P. Bell, a British commissioner of the Ceylon Civil Service. Bell was shipwrecked on the islands in 1879, and returned several times to investigate the ancient Buddhist ruins.
Early scholars like H.C.P. Bell, who resided in Sri Lanka most of his life, claim that Buddhism came to the Maldives from Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. Since then, new archaeological discoveries point to Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 and Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 Buddhist influences, which are likely to have come to the islands straight from the Subcontinent. An urn discovered in Maalhos
Maalhos
Maalhos as a place name may refer to:* Maalhos * Maalhos...

 (Ari Atoll) in the 1980s has a Vishvavajra
Vajra
Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond...

 inscribed with Protobengali
Bengali script
The Bengali alphabet is the writing system for the Bengali language. The script with variations is used for Assamese and is basis for Meitei, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Kokborok, Garo and Mundari alphabets. All these languages are spoken in the eastern region of South Asia. Historically, the script has...

 script. This text was in the same script used in the ancient Buddhist centres of learning in Nalanda
Nalanda
Nālandā is the name of an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India.The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from the fifth or sixth century CE to 1197 CE. It has been called "one of the...

 and Vikramashila. There is also a small Porites stupa in the Museum where the directional Dhyani Buddha
Five Dhyani Buddhas
In Vajrayana Buddhism, the Five Dhyani Buddhas , also known as the Five Wisdom Tathāgatas, the Five Great Buddhas and the Five Jinas , are representations of the five qualities of the Buddha...

s (Jinas) are etched in its four cardinal points as in the Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 tradition. Some coral blocks with fearsome heads of guardians are also displaying Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 Iconography. All these relatively recent archaeological discoveries are today exhibited in a side room of the small National Museum in Male' along with other artifacts.

Buddhist remains have been also found in Minicoy Island, then part of the Maldive Kingdom, by the Archaeological Survey of India
Archaeological Survey of India
The Archaeological Survey of India is a department of the Government of India, attached to the Ministry of Culture . The ASI is responsible for archaeological studies and the preservation of archaeological heritage of the country in accordance with the various acts of the Indian Parliament...

 (ASI), in the latter half of the 20th century. Among these remains a Buddha head and stone foundations of a Vihara deserve special mention.

Following the Islamic concept that before Islam there was the time of Jahiliya (ignorance), in the history books used by Maldivians the introduction of Islam at the end of the 12th century is considered the cornerstone of the country's history. Islam remains the state religion in the 1990s. And yet the Maldivian language
Dhivehi language
Maldivian is an Indo-Aryan language predominantly spoken by about 350,000 people in the Maldives where it is the national language. It is also the first language of nearly 10,000 people in the island of Minicoy in the Union territory of Lakshadweep, India where the Mahl dialect of the Maldivian...

, the first Maldive scripts
Dhivehi Writing Systems
The Dhivehi or Divehi writing systems are the different scripts used by Maldivians during their history. The early Maldivian scripts fell into the abugida category, while the more recent Taana has characteristics of both an abugida and a true alphabet...

, the architecture, the ruling institutions, the customs and manners of the Maldivians originated at the time when the Maldives were a Buddhist Kingdom.

Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 became the dominant religion in the Maldives and enjoyed royal patronage for many centuries, probably as long as over one thousand and four hundred years. Practically all archaeological remains in the Maldives are from Buddhist stupa
Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

s and monasteries, and all artifacts found to date display characteristic Buddhist iconography.
Buddhist (and Hindu) temples were Mandala
Mandala
Maṇḍala is a Sanskrit word that means "circle". In the Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point...

 shaped, they are oriented according to the four cardinal points, the main gate being towards the east.Since building space and materials were scarce, Maldivians constructed their places of worship on the foundations of previous buildings.

The ancient Buddhist stupas are called "havitta", "hatteli" or "ustubu" by the Maldivians according to the different atolls. These stupas and other archaeological remains, like foundations of Buddhist buildings Vihara
Vihara
Vihara is the Sanskrit and Pali term for a Buddhist monastery. It originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", and referred to "dwellings" or "refuges" used by wandering monks during the rainy season....

, compound walls and stone baths, are found on many islands of the Maldives. They usually lie buried under mounds of sand and covered by vegetation. Local historian Hassan Ahmed Maniku counted as many as 59 islands with Buddhist archaeological sites in a provisional list he published in 1990. The largest monuments of the Buddhist era are in the islands fringing the eastern side of Haddhunmathi Atoll
Haddhunmathi Atoll
Haddhunmathi or Haddummati Atoll is an administrative division of the Maldives. It corresponds to the natural atoll of the same name.It is mostly rimmed by barrier reefs, the broadest of which are topped by islands...

.

In the mid-1980s, the Maldivian government allowed the popular Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl
Thor Heyerdahl
Thor Heyerdahl was a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a background in zoology and geography. He became notable for his Kon-Tiki expedition, in which he sailed by raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands...

, to excavate ancient sites. Despite the clear evidence that all the ancient ruins in Maldives are Buddhist, Heyerdahl claimed that early "sun-worshiping seafarers", called the "Redin", first settled on the islands. Keeping up with his sensationalist style, Heyerdahl argued that 'Redin' were people coming from somewhere else, whereas an ancient Maldivian poem (Fua Mulaku Rashoveshi) says: "Havitta uhe haudahau, Redin taneke hedi ihau". This poem gives us the clue about the name 'Redin'. According to Magieduruge Ibrahim Didi, a learned man from Fua Mulaku, it was merely the name which the converted Maldivians used to refer to their infidel (ghair dīn = 'redin') ancestors after the general conversion from Buddhism to Islam.

It is generally said that the conversion of the Maldives to Islam was peaceful, but historical evidence suggests the contrary. For example, the 12th century copperplates found at Isdhoo
Isdhoo (Laamu Atoll)
Isdhoo or Isdū is one of the inhabited islands of Haddhunmathi Atoll, administrative code Laamu....

 Island state that the monks (Sangumanun) from the monastery at that island were brought to Male' and beheaded.

Introduction of Islam


The interest of Middle Eastern peoples in Maldives resulted from its strategic location and its abundant supply of cowrie shells, a form of currency that was widely used throughout Asia and parts of the East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

n coast since ancient times. Middle Eastern seafarers had just begun to take over the Indian Ocean trade routes in the tenth century AD and found Maldives to be an important link in those routes.

The importance of the Arabs as traders in the Indian Ocean by the twelfth century AD may partly explain why the last Buddhist king of Maldives converted to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 in the year 1153 (or 1193, for certain copper plate grants give a later date). The king thereupon adopted the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 title and name (in Arabic) of Sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 (besides the old Divehi title of Maha Radun or Ras Kilege or Rasgefānu) Muhammad al Adil, initiating a series of six Islamic dynasties consisting of eighty-four sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

s and sultanas
Sultana (title)
The term Sultana is an Islamic title reserved for a few Muslim women rulers in history. It is sometimes mistaken for the title of the chief wife of a Sultan.-Overview:The most famous Sultana was Razia Sultana of India....

 that lasted until 1932 when the sultanate became elective.

The person responsible for this conversion was a Sunni Muslim visitor named Abu al Barakat. His venerated tomb now stands on the grounds of Hukuru Mosque, or miski, in the capital of Malé
Malé
Malé , is the capital and most populous city in the Republic of Maldives. It is located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll . It is also one of the Administrative divisions of the Maldives. Traditionally it was the King's Island, from where the ancient Maldive Royal dynasties ruled and where...

. Built in 1656, this is the oldest mosque in Maldives. Arab interest in Maldives also was reflected in the residence there in the 1340s of the well-known North African traveler Ibn Battutah.

It is worth noticing that compared to the other areas of South Asia, the conversion of the Maldives to Islam happened relatively late. Arab Traders had converted populations in the Malabar Coast
Malabar Coast
The Malabar Coast is a long and narrow coastline on the south-western shore line of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, especially on their westward-facing mountain...

 since the 7th century, and the Arab invader Muhammad Bin Qāsim
Muhammad bin Qasim
Muhammad bin Qasim Al-Thaqafi was a Umayyad general who, at the age of 17, began the conquest of the Sindh and Punjab regions along the Indus River for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was born in the city of Taif...

 had converted large swathes of Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

 to Islam at about the same time. The Maldives remained a Buddhist kingdom for another five hundred years (perhaps the south-westernmost Buddhist country) until the conversion to Islam.

The document known as Dhanbidhū Lōmāfānu
Lomafanu
Lōmāfānu or Loamaafaanu, also known by the Sanskrit name Sasanam, are Maldivian texts in the form of copper plates on which inscriptions have been added. The oldest of these plates dates from the twelfth century AD....

 gives information about the suppression of Buddhism in the southern Haddhunmathi Atoll
Haddhunmathi Atoll
Haddhunmathi or Haddummati Atoll is an administrative division of the Maldives. It corresponds to the natural atoll of the same name.It is mostly rimmed by barrier reefs, the broadest of which are topped by islands...

, which had been a major center of that religion. Monks were taken to Male and beheaded, The Satihirutalu (the chattravali or chattrayashti crowning a stupa) were broken to disfigure the numerous stupasm and the statues of Vairocana
Vairocana
Vairocana is a celestial Buddha who is often interpreted as the Bliss Body of the historical Gautama Buddha; he can also be referred to as the dharmakaya Buddha and the great solar Buddha. In Sino-Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana is also seen as the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of shunyata or...

, the transcendent Buddha
Buddhahood
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

 of the middle world region, were destroyed; and the destruction was not limited to sculptures. The wealth of manuscripts probably written on screwpine leaves that Maldivian monks in their Buddhist monasteries must have produced was either burnt
Book burning
Book burning, biblioclasm or libricide is the practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, books or other written material and media. In modern times, other forms of media, such as phonograph records, video tapes, and CDs have also been ceremoniously burned, torched, or shredded...

 or otherwise so thoroughly eliminated that it has disappeared without leaving any trace.

Portuguese


In 1558 the Portuguese established a small garrison with a Viador (Viyazoru), or overseer of a factory (trading post)
Factory (trading post)
Factory was the English term for the trading posts system originally established by Europeans in foreign territories, first within different states of medieval Europe, and later in their colonial possessions...

 in the Maldives, which they administered from their main colony in Goa
Goa
Goa , a former Portuguese colony, is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Located in South West India in the region known as the Konkan, it is bounded by the state of Maharashtra to the north, and by Karnataka to the east and south, while the Arabian Sea forms its...

. It is said that they tried to impose Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 on the locals. Thus, fifteen years later, a local leader named Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Azam and his two brothers organized a popular revolt and drove the Portuguese out of Maldives. This event is now commemorated as National Day, and a small museum and memorial center
National museum (Maldives)
Established on the National Day of the Maldives, the first National Museum of the country was opened on November 11, 1952, by the Prime Minister at the time, Mohamed Amin Didi....

 honor the hero on his home island of Utheemu on South Thiladhummathi Atoll.

Dutch


In the mid-seventeenth century, the Dutch, who had replaced the Portuguese as the dominant power in Ceylon, established hegemony over Maldivian affairs without involving themselves directly in local matters, which were governed according to centuries-old Islamic customs.

However, the British expelled the Dutch from Ceylon in 1796 and included Maldives as a British protected area. The status of Maldives as a British protectorate was officially recorded in an 1887 agreement in which the sultan accepted British influence over Maldivian external relations and defence. The British had no presence, however, on the leading island community of Malé
Malé
Malé , is the capital and most populous city in the Republic of Maldives. It is located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll . It is also one of the Administrative divisions of the Maldives. Traditionally it was the King's Island, from where the ancient Maldive Royal dynasties ruled and where...

. They left the islanders alone, as had the Dutch, with regard to internal administration to continue to be regulated by Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 traditional institutions.

British


Britain got entangled with the Maldives as a result of domestic disturbances which targeted the settler community of Bora
Bora
-Performers:* Bora, a Korean pop artist in the group Sistar* Bora Yoon, experimental sound artist and composer / performer based in NYC-Geography:...

 merchants who were British subjects. Rivalry between two dominant families, the Athireege clan and the Kakaage clan was resolved with former winning the favour of the British authorities in Ceylon, who concluded a Protection Agreement in 1887. During the British era, which lasted until 1965, Maldives continued to be ruled under a succession of sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

s. It was a period during which the Sultan's authority and powers were increasingly and decisively taken over by the Chief Minister, much to the chagrin of the British Governor-General who continued to deal with the ineffectual Sultan. Consequently, Britain encouraged the development of a constitutional monarchy, and the first Constitution was proclaimed in 1932. However, the new arrangements favoured neither the aging Sultan nor the wily Chief Minister, but rather a young crop of British-educated reformists. As a result, angry mobs were instigated against the Constitution which was publicly torn up. Maldives remained a British crown protectorate until 1953 when the sultanate was suspended and the First Republic was declared under the short-lived presidency of Muhammad Amin Didi.

This first elected president of the country introduced several reforms. While serving as prime minister during the 1940s, Didi nationalized the fish export industry. As president he is remembered as a reformer of the education system and a promoter of women's rights. Muslim conservatives in Malé eventually ousted his government, and during a riot over food shortages, Didi was beaten by a mob and died on a nearby island.

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 airfield on Gan
RAF Gan
The former Royal Air Force Station Gan commonly known as RAF Gan, was a Royal Air Force military airbase on Gan Island, the southern-most island of Addu Atoll which is part of the larger groups of islands which form the Maldives, in the middle of the Indian Ocean.-History:The area was originally...

 in the southernmost Addu Atoll
Addu Atoll
Addu City is a city in Maldives consisting of the inhabited islands of the southernmost atoll of the archipelago....

. 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.

In 1957, however, the new prime minister, Ibrahim Nasir
Ibrahim Nasir
Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefan , KCMG, NGIV was a Maldivian politician who served as Prime Minister of the Maldives under Sultan Muhammad Fareed Didi from 1957 to 1968 and succeeded him to become the first President of the Second Republic from...

, called for a review of the agreement in the interest of shortening the lease and increasing the annual payment. But Nasir, who was theoretically responsible to then sultan Muhammad Farid Didi, was challenged in 1959 by a local secessionist movement in the southern atolls that benefited economically from the British presence on Gan
Gan (Seenu Atoll)
Gan is the southernmost island of Addu Atoll, as well as the southernmost island of the Maldives. It is relatively large by Maldive standards....

. This group cut ties with the Maldives government and formed an independent state with Abdullah Afif as president.

The short-lived state (1959–63), called the United Suvadive Republic
United Suvadive Republic
The United Suvadive Republic or Suvadive Islands was a short-lived breakaway nation in the remote Southern Atolls of the Maldive Islands, namely Addu Atoll, Huvadhu Atoll and Fuvahmulah that geographically make up the Suvadive archipelago.The name of this nation was originally an ancient name for...

, had a combined population of 20,000 inhabitants scattered in the southernmost atolls Huvadu, Addu and Fua Mulaku. In 1962 Nasir sent gunboats from Malé with government police on board to eliminate elements opposed to his rule. One year later the Suvadive republic was scrapped and Abdulla Afif went into exile to the Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

, where he died in 1993.

Meanwhile, in 1960 Maldives allowed the United Kingdom to continue to use both the Gan
RAF Gan
The former Royal Air Force Station Gan commonly known as RAF Gan, was a Royal Air Force military airbase on Gan Island, the southern-most island of Addu Atoll which is part of the larger groups of islands which form the Maldives, in the middle of the Indian Ocean.-History:The area was originally...

 and the Hitaddu facilities for a thirty-year period, with the payment of £750,000 over the period of 1960 to 1965 for the purpose of Maldives' economic development.

Independence


On 26 July 1965, Maldives gained independence under an agreement signed with United Kingdom. The British government retained the use of the Gan
Gan
Gan may refer to:-Computing and telecommunications:*.gan, the file extension for documents created by GanttProject*Generic Access Network formerly known as Unlicensed Mobile Access *Global Area Network- Mythology :...

 and Hitaddu facilities. In a national referendum in March 1968, Maldivians abolished the sultanate and established a republic.

Nasir


The Second Republic was proclaimed in November 1968 under the presidency of Ibrahim Nasir
Ibrahim Nasir
Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefan , KCMG, NGIV was a Maldivian politician who served as Prime Minister of the Maldives under Sultan Muhammad Fareed Didi from 1957 to 1968 and succeeded him to become the first President of the Second Republic from...

, who had increasingly dominated the political scene. Under the new constitution, Nasir was elected indirectly to a four-year presidential term by the Majlis
Majlis
' , is an Arabic term meaning "a place of sitting", used in the context of "council", to describe various types of special gatherings among common interest groups be it administrative, social or religious in countries with linguistic or cultural connections to Islamic countries...

 (legislature). He appointed Ahmed Zaki as the new prime minister.

In 1973 Nasir was elected to a second term under the constitution as amended in 1972, which extended the presidential term to five years and which also provided for the election of the prime minister by the Majlis
Majlis
' , is an Arabic term meaning "a place of sitting", used in the context of "council", to describe various types of special gatherings among common interest groups be it administrative, social or religious in countries with linguistic or cultural connections to Islamic countries...

. In March 1975, newly elected prime minister Zaki was arrested in a bloodless coup and was banished to a remote atoll. Observers suggested that Zaki was becoming too popular and hence posed a threat to the Nasir faction.

During the 1970s, the economic situation in Maldives suffered a setback when the Sri Lankan market for Maldives' main export of dried fish collapsed. Adding to the problems was the British decision in 1975 to close its airfield on Gan
Gan
Gan may refer to:-Computing and telecommunications:*.gan, the file extension for documents created by GanttProject*Generic Access Network formerly known as Unlicensed Mobile Access *Global Area Network- Mythology :...

 in line with its new policy of abandoning defense commitments east of the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

. A steep commercial decline followed the evacuation of Gan in March 1976. As a result, the popularity of Nasir's government suffered. Maldives's 20 year period of authoritarian rule under Nasir abruptly ended in 1978 when he fled to Singapore. A subsequent investigation revealed that he had absconded with millions of dollars from the state treasury. However there has been no evidence so far and as a result it was believed that it was act of the new government to get their popularity and support among the civilians.

Gayoom


Elected to replace Nasir for a five-year presidential term in 1978 was Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was President of the Maldives from 1978 to 2008. After serving as Minister of Transport, he was nominated as President by the Majlis of the Maldives and succeeded Ibrahim Nasir on November 11, 1978. He eventually became the longest-ruling head of government in Asia...

, a former university lecturer and Maldivian ambassador to the United Nations (UN). The peaceful election was seen as ushering in a period of political stability and economic development in view of Gayoom's priority to develop the poorer islands. In 1978 Maldives joined the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 and the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

. Tourism also gained in importance to the local economy, reaching more than 120,000 visitors in 1985. The local populace appeared to benefit from increased tourism and the corresponding increase in foreign contacts involving various development projects.

Despite the popularity of Gayoom, those connected to the former President hired ex-SAS mercenaries in 1980 to carry out a coup to oust him. The attempt was sponsored by Ahmed Naseem, brother-in-law of Nasir and former junior Minister and was supported by a handful of Nasir loyalists. Naseem had objected to the emergence of Gayoom and had vowed to depose him within 6 months. Naseem's disaffection only increased when the parliament began investigating financial irregularities under Nasir as well as the murder of inmates and torture in Villingili Prison in the early 1970s, which implicated his brother-in-law, the erstwhile strongman Abdul Hannan Haleem who was Nasir's Minister for Public Safety.

The small group of mercenaries arrived in the Maldives smuggling their light arms in diving equipment, but did not carry out the mission because Gayoom had been tipped about their arrival and they found that they had been misinformed about the popularity of Gayoom.

In 1983, a local shipping businessman, Reeko Ibrahim Maniku made a bid to win the parliamentary nomination by offering bribes to members of parliament and to High Court judges. Reeko Ibrahim remained in self-imposed exile, returning to Maldives only in 2006 and has since registered a political party, Social Democratic Party.

Despite coup attempts in 1980, 1983, and 1988, Gayoom's popularity remained strong, allowing him to win three more presidential terms. In the 1983, 1988, and 1993 elections, Gayoom received more than 90 % of the vote. Although the government did not allow any legal opposition, Gayoom was opposed in the early 1990s by Islamists (also seen as fundamentalists) who wanted to impose a religious way of life and by some powerful local business leaders.

Whereas the 1980 and 1983 coup attempts against Gayoom's presidency were not considered serious, the third coup attempt in November 1988 alarmed the international community. About 80 armed Tamil
Tamil people
Tamil people , also called Tamils or Tamilians, are an ethnic group native to Tamil Nadu, India and the north-eastern region of Sri Lanka. Historic and post 15th century emigrant communities are also found across the world, notably Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa, Australia, Canada,...

 mercenaries belonging to PLOTE http://www.ipcs.org/ipcs/databaseIndex2.jsp?database=1001&country2=Maldives landed on Malé before dawn aboard speedboats from a freighter. Disguised as visitors, a similar number had already infiltrated Malé earlier. Although the mercenaries quickly gained the nearby airport on Hulule, they failed to capture President Gayoom, who fled from house to house and asked for military intervention from India, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Gandhi
Rajiv Ratna Gandhi was the sixth Prime Minister of India . He took office after his mother's assassination on 31 October 1984; he himself was assassinated on 21 May 1991. He became the youngest Prime Minister of India when he took office at the age of 40.Rajiv Gandhi was the elder son of Indira...

 immediately dispatched 1,600 troops by air to restore order in Malé. Less than 12 hours later, Indian paratroopers arrived on Hulele, causing some of the mercenaries to flee toward Sri Lanka in their freighter. Those unable to reach the ship in time were quickly rounded up. Nineteen people reportedly died in the fighting, and several taken hostage also died. Three days later an Indian frigate captured the mercenaries on their freighter near the Sri Lankan coast. In July 1989, a number of the mercenaries were returned to Maldives to stand trial. Gayoom commuted the death sentences passed against them to life imprisonment.

The 1988 coup had been masterminded and sponsored by a few disgruntled businessmen, chiefly Sikka Ahmed Ismail Maniku and Abdulla Luthufi, who were operating a farm in Sri Lanka. Earlier, the two of them had also been caught in an attempt to assassinate Nasir when he was president and had been tried and imprisoned before being released in 1975. The captured mercenaries and their paymasters were put on trial. Sikka Maniku and Luthufee were sentenced to death in 1989, but Gayoom commuted their sentences to life imprisonment. In 1994, Gayoom pardoned and released Sikka Maniku on humanitarian grounds as he had developed cardiovascular complications, and Maniku went into self-imposed exile in Colombo.

Ex-president Nasir denied any involvement in the coup. In fact, in July 1990, President Gayoom officially pardoned Nasir in absentia in recognition of his role in obtaining Maldives' independence.

See also


  • Hinduism in Maldives
    Hinduism in Maldives
    There were certain Hindu traditions in ancient Maldives. Before conversion, the religion of Maldives was Vajrayana Buddhism which was heavily influenced by Hinduism. There are archaeological remains from the 8th or 9th portraying Hindu deities, like Shiva, Lakshmi and sage Agastya.The Maldivian...

  • History of Asia
    History of Asia
    The history of Asia can be seen as the collective history of several distinct peripheral coastal regions such as, East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East linked by the interior mass of the Eurasian steppe....

  • History of India
    History of India
    The history of India begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent from...

  • History of South Asia
    History of South Asia
    The term South Asia refers to the contemporary political entities of the Indian subcontinent and associated island. These are the states of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the island nations of Sri Lanka and the Maldives....

  • Italian ship Ramb I
    Italian ship Ramb I
    The Italian ship Ramb I was a pre-war "banana boat" that was converted to be an auxiliary cruiser during World War II. The Ramb I operated in the area around the Horn of Africa. It was sunk in the Indian Ocean before it could take a single prize....

  • List of Sultans of the Maldives
  • List of Presidents of the Maldives
  • Maldivian Folklore
    Maldivian Folklore
    Maldive Mythology or Maldive Folklore is the body of myths, tales and anecdotes belonging to the oral tradition of Maldivians. Even though some of the Maldivian myths were already mentioned briefly by British commissioner in Ceylon HCP Bell towards the end of the 19th century, their study and...

  • National Museum of the Maldives
    National museum (Maldives)
    Established on the National Day of the Maldives, the first National Museum of the country was opened on November 11, 1952, by the Prime Minister at the time, Mohamed Amin Didi....

  • National Library of Maldives
    National Library of Maldives
    The National Library of the Republic of the Maldives was established in 1945. It serves as the Public and National Library of the country, maintaining modern literature....

  • Politics of the Maldives
    Politics of the Maldives
    The politics of the Maldives take place in the framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President is the Head of Government. Executive power is exercised by the government. The President heads the executive branch and appoints the Cabinet; Like many presidential democracies, each member of...



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