Republic of Maldives is an independent island nation that spans the equator in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago consists of 1,192 coral islands and sandbanks on a foundation of basalt formed millions of years ago. Grouped in clusters or Atolls the islands extend over 510 miles (820 km) from north to south and 80 miles (130 km) from east to west. The northernmost atoll is about 370 miles (600 km) south-southwest of the Indian mainland, and the central area, including the capital island of Malé (King Island), is about 400 miles (645 km) southwest of Sri Lanka. 185 islands are inhabited with others dedicated to tourism and agriculture. Many of the smaller islands remain in their natural state.
The Maldives is home to 26 naturally occurring atolls formed millennia ago as the tectonic plates of the Laccadives-Chagos Ridge moved to create the Maldives. An atoll is a ring-shaped coral reef, often with a series of islets between the islands found at the rim of the atoll. The centre body of water located within an atoll is the lagoon, connected to the ocean through the channels between islets. While the geological activity in the region remains active moving about 0.06 inches (1.7 millimetres) a year it will be millennia before any significant change will be seen.
The earliest written history of the Maldives tells of fishermen, settlers from Southern India and Sri Lanka who came to fish in the archipelago’s abundant waters.
Through history, Maldives has been of strategic importance due to the role it has and continues to play in the marine routes across the Indian Ocean. The trade routes have been travelled by many nations over the centuries from the Arab nations, to the French, Portuguese and English, to name a few. The Maldives provided a rest and replenishment stop for traders and trade including the vitally important shell currency of the cowry shell and coconut hemp rope traded as far as China and Yemen.
Religion too has played an important role in the History and Culture of the Maldives with the earliest settlers bringing Buddhism with them, and the later Muslim traders introduced Sunni Islam. Maldivians converted to Islam by the mid-12th century and the influences from Arabia wove into the language and culture of the Maldives.
In recent years advancements in technology and infrastructure have seen the country prosper while continuing to value the natural beauty of the islands and the bounty of the oceans that surround it.
Straddling the equator, the Maldives benefits from temperatures that hardly vary throughout the year. Sunrise and sunset too are dependable to within a window of 30 minutes. The lush nature of the islands makes the Maldives an ideal destination for a tropical escape.
Travellers seeking respite can experience no better benefit of visiting a tropical island than walking barefoot. With over 7,000 nerve endings in our feet, the simple act of walking barefoot on coral sand and that tingling sensation connecting us in a very special way to the islands, not to mentions the numerous health benefits studies have identified.
Bodu-Beru, big drums are an integral part of the Maldivian culture enjoyed through generations of Maldivians.
From drumming during arrivals and departures, renewal-of-vows beach wedding ceremonies, celebrations to cultural night presentations, guests can immerse themselves in the rhythm of the bodu-beru, Maldivian dance and singing at the resorts. The collection employs Maldivian artists to present a range of contemporary, traditional, instrumental and modern bodu beru for guests’ appreciation.
Tantalize taste buds with fiery chilli infused local dishes, milder mas riha ( fish curry) in coconut milk, the salty reef or tuna fish broth Garudhiya and the bounty of the Maldives, the grilled fish.
Try snacks of coconut and dried fish, try the roshi (roti) or rice with the flavorful rihaakuru, the fish-based thick sauce. Experience the local Maldives culture through gastronomy. At Crown & Champa Resorts, one can also explore the Maldives through its food, the coconut delicacies and fish.