Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Maldives

 

Time in Maldives:


 
 
 

History of Maldives

The Maldives is an archipelago of 1190 clustered islands stretching from North to South, about 500 miles from the Southern tip of India. The political map of the country is divided into 20 administrative units, known as Atolls.

As Islam spread to West Asia, Arabian influence culminated in the ruling monarch of Maldives embracing the Islamic faith in the mid twelfth century. The Maldives was declared a Sultanate following the conversion into Islam in 1153 AD, and the ruling monarch adopted the name of al Sultan Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Siri Bavana Adittiya Mahaa Radhun, popularly known as Dharumavantha Rasgefaanu.

At the time of Ibn Battuta's ( Moroccan traveller and historian) visit in 1343 AD, the country was carrying on a flourishing trade in cowry and other sea shells, tortoise shells, dried fish, copra, coir rope and ambergris to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Arabia, India , China and the Persian Gulf. Sultana Khadheeja Rehendhi Kambaidhi Kilege, the reigning monarch, died in 1380, having ruled the country for a total of twenty nine years, in three separate reigns.

Struggle for sovereignty

In the early Sixteenth Century, the twice ousted Sultan Kalhu Muhammad enlisted the help of the Portuguese in Goa, India, to regain the throne. In return Kalhu Muhammad allowed the Portuguese to build a factory in Male'. In 1518, an expedition of 120 men under the command of Joao Gomes Cheiradinheiro, landed in Male' and proceeded to forcibly extract the country's produce. Before long, however, the Maldivians rose and overpowered the Portuguese

In the mid Sixteenth Century, the ruling monarch, Sultan Hassan XI, renounced Islam and fled the country. He traveled to Cochin, India and eventually reached Goa, where he was baptized by Francis Xavier. He later married a Christian lady. Hassan twice attempted to regain the country's throne in vain, with the help of the Portuguese.

In 1558, a powerful enemy expedition landed on the western shore of Male'. In the ensuing skirmish the ruling monarch, Sultan Ali VI (1557-1558 AD.), was martyred. Sultan Ali VI, or Ali Rasgefaanu, was buried on the very smp he fell dead, on the Western shore of Male'. His enshrined tomb still remains.

Liberation from the Portuguese

The country's liberation from enemy hands was undertaken by some of the noblest sons born on Maldivian soil. The tale of the struggle of Mohammad Thakurufaanu, to free the country from the Portuguese yoke, has been legendary.

Mohammad Thakurufaanu and his compatriots established a power base in the island of Kolhufushi in Mulaku Atoll, and began a guerilla campaign against the aggressors.

After at least one abortive attempt at the capital island, Male', Mohammad Thakurufaanu, and his compatriots, traveled to Maliku (Minicoy), then under the rule of the Ali Rajas of Cannanore (India), and enlisted their help.

On the 1st of the Islamic month of Rabee'l Awwal, 981 AH. (1573 AD.), in the dead of night, Mohammad Thakurufaanu and his companions, attacked Male' and 15 years and 6 months of foreign occupation came to an end.

Mohammad Thakurufaanu was crowned and ruled as Sultan Mohammad Thakurufaanu al A'zam. He ruled for fifteen years and brought about many remarkable changes in the social, political and religious life of the country. The largest and the biggest mosque, located in the Islamic Center premises, is named after this noble Sultan. Sultan Mohammad Thakurufaanu died in 1585 and was succeeded by his son, Ibrahim Kalaafaanu.

Malabari threat to independence

The Malabars tried to capture Maldives during the reign of Ibrahim Kalaafaanu who took reins of Power following the end of Muhamad Thakurufaan's rule. The Malabars made two more attempts but Dhon Hassan Manikufanu, with the help of the French in Pondichcherry, India, defeated the Malabars. In recognition of his services, Dhon Hassan Manikufanu was awarded the title of Rannabandeyri, and later that of al Ghazi. He was also offered the throne, which he refused on the grounds that the legitimate sultan of the country, Sultan Mohammad Imaduddin III, was alive, though a captive of the Malabars. In 1759 AD., following the death of Mohammad Imaduddin III he relented and was crowned Sultan al Ghazi Hassan Izzaddeen. Dhon Hassan Manikufanu or Dhon Banda rain, as he is popularly known, proved to be one of the best rulers Maldives ever had.

On the 16th of December 1887, the ruling monarch, Sultan Muinuddheen II, signed an agreement with the British governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Mr. A.H. Gordon, rendering the Maldives a British protectorate.

The first written constitution

In 1932, in the reign of Sultan Shamsuddin III, the first written constitution was introduced. A legislative body, the 'Majlis', was formed, laying the groundwork for a representational form of government. The architect of this British inspired constitution was Prime Minister, Amir Abdul Majeed Rannabandeyri Kilege'fanu.

The First Republic was declared in 1953 with Mohammad Amin Didi as the President. President Mohammad Amin Didi made invaluable contributions in all areas of Maldivian life. The presidency of Amin, however, was short lived. A monarchy was reestablished. It was a Constitutional Monarchy with Sultan Mohammad Fareed on the throne.

Independence

On the 26th of July 1965, Maldives gained independence from the British. In this same year Maldives became a member of the United Nations. On the 11th of November 1968, the Sultanate was abolished and a Republic was established for the second time. Ibrahim Nasir was the President of this second Republic. Nasir introduced English medium education for the masses and the country was opened to tourism. Nasir was succeeded by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was sworn in as president on the 11th of November 1978. The country has come a long way since President Gayoom's ascension to power, as the Maldives then were an agrarian economy with subsistence level fisheries as the major economic activity.