Posted by on 06 Apr 2022
Maldives is one of the best island destinations in the world. It has numerous atolls, clear waters, pristine beaches and dive sites filled with marine life. With its rich history and diverse landscapes and destinations, you’ll never run out of things to do in Maldives.
If it’s your first time going to this world-renowned island destination, you should know that there’s so much more to them than its beautiful beaches! We’ve listed some fun facts about Maldives that you should know to spice up your first beach holiday below.
Maldives: 15 Fun Facts for First-Time Visitors
Maldives is the World’s Flattest Country
Maldives is Slowly Sinking
Maldives Experiences Equatorial Sunlight
Maldives Has Wet & Dry Seasons
Maldives Has Distinct White Beaches
Less than a Fifth of Maldives’ Island Population is Inhabited
It Has the Biggest Whale Shark Population in the World
It’s Home to Majority of the Earth’s Marine Turtle Species
Traditional Maldives Boats Don’t Use Compasses or GPS
The Coconut Tree is Maldives’ National Tree
Maldives Have Different Weekends
The Boduberu is Part of Traditional Maldivian Music
Maldives Has Historic Coral Houses
A President of Maldives Once Held a Cabinet Meeting Underwater
Islam the Official Religion of Maldives
This beautiful island country has an average altitude of 1.8 metres: its highest point Villingili Island, is only 2.3 metres above sea level. To put things in perspective, the next flattest country ‒ Qatar ‒ already has an average elevation of 28 metres above sea level!
The 1,200 islands in Maldives are only nearly two metres above sea level on average, making the area more prone to rising sea levels, erosion and other environmental factors. As a result, the country is slowly sinking into the ocean. Thankfully, Maldives has strict environmental laws in place to minimise the impact.
Maldives lies just across the equator. Since it lies on the equator, sunlight hits the country at a 90-degree angle. Avoid sunburn during your trip and apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 50+.
Maldives has a tropical monsoon climate, and it experiences wet and dry seasons: the northeastern winter monsoon from November to March and the southwestern summer monsoon season from June to August both bring rain to the country. The northeast monsoon, in particular, is characterised by mild and dry winds along with showers.
Unlike most “white sand” beaches that have yellowish sand, the beaches of Maldives have true white sands. The sands of Maldives beaches are made of coralline. Other beaches often have sand from quartz with a yellow tinge. Coralline sands are rare and only present in around 5% of beaches worldwide.
Of the 1,200 islands as clusters and atolls in Maldives, only about 200 are inhabited, and 110 are reserved for tourism. The rest of the uninhabited islands are used for agriculture and other sources of livelihood because of an imposed travel ban in 1984. But since 2009, tourists can visit and enjoy the island country’s beautiful islands, beaches and resorts.
Maldives is a renowned diving destination. You’ll find giant whale sharks in the area, especially around the reefs near Sun Island.
You can also see these gentle giants and other shark species in Rangali Island and Hanifaru Bay. Keep your eye out in Maldives waters in case you catch sight of a whale shark!
Speaking of Maldives’ thriving marine biodiversity, its seas are home to five of the seven marine turtle species in the world. You can see loggerheads, leatherbacks, Olive Ridley turtles, green turtles and hawksbill turtles when you visit popular dive sites in the country.
If you’re visiting Maldives, expect to ride dhonis, or traditional Maldives boats. They are one of the best modes of transportation if you want to explore the atolls of island country.
You’ll be surprised that seasoned dhoni captains and crews still refrain from using GPS or compasses to navigate the various atolls and islands. Instead, they observe the movement of water in the lagoons to avoid dangerous reefs. Sometimes they navigate the waters by looking at the stars.
The coconut tree is the national tree of Maldives, and you’ll see it on their flag. These trees can last for at least a hundred years and grow up to 30 metres tall.
Coconut trees have various purposes: the trees provide much-needed shade to the islands' winding beaches and produce coconut milk and oil. They also produce coconut water, a refreshing drink. The coconut fibres are useful for coir rope construction, and native Maldives citizens use coconut wood to build dhonis for sailing.
Unlike the majority of the countries that consider Saturday and Sunday as the weekend, Maldives have their weekends on Friday and Saturday. This is common in Egypt, Jordan, Oman and other Islamic countries. Whenever you plan to visit a local island, keep this in mind since some services and accommodations won’t be available on weekends.
You’ve probably seen those big drums made of coconut wood in Maldives — they’re called “Boduberu” and are the heart and soul of traditional Maldivian music. These drums use manta ray skin for the head, but modern versions are made with goatskin.
Boduberu music starts with a slow beat and tempo that gradually speed up in loudness and intensity. These performances usually involve 15 people: one lead singer, three drummers, while everyone else dances. Enjoy the lively music during your stay in Maldives!
Traditional Maldivian houses were originally made from corals due to coral mining. These houses used coral rocks from shallow reef flats. Since most citizens used lumber and coconut leaves to build their homes, coral was reserved for mosques, tombstones and monuments because they were a symbol of opulence.
A house made of coral was a sign of luxury and prestige. Even though coral reefs are now protected, you can still see old coral houses in Maldives.
Another unique and interesting fact about Maldives is that its former president Mohammed Nasheed held an underwater cabinet meeting in Girifushi. On October 17, 2009, Nasheed and 13 other government officials participated in the first underwater cabinet meeting. The agenda was to address the looming threat of global warming.
The officials signed a document asking all countries to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions and prevent climate change during the meeting. It was then presented at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December of the same year.
Islam is the state religion of Maldives. It has been the official religion since 1153, thanks to the influence of Arab and Persian traders in 947 AD. The law requires all citizens to be Muslim. Those in public office should be followers of Sunni Islam.
Make Your First Maldives Holiday Unforgettable
Enjoy the white sand beaches, beautiful atolls and crystal clear waters with rich aquatic wildlife. Travel to Maldives today!
Whether you’re visiting alone or with your family and friends, Maldives is worth visiting. Explore the tropical paradise with our various Maldives holiday packages.