You probably know of the Maldives as a tropical holiday destination where the lagoons are a glorious turquoise, the sand is soft and white, and the hotels are uber-luxurious.
But did you know that the national women’s sport combines tennis and dodgeball, and not infrequently leads to broken fingers? Or that, despite being a honeymoon mecca, the country’s divorce rate is by far the highest in the world? Or that the country has a history with black magic?
It’s likely that most visitors to the Maldives don’t get to learn much about the country’s fascinating history, customs and culture because the local population is segregated from resorts, making it harder to interact with locals than in other countries such as the Bahamas, Fiji or Thailand.
This chain of 26 atolls in the Indian Ocean is also so small and remote that it’s not well-known on the world stage. This is a country that never goes to war and can’t trade its currency (Rufiyaa) in the Foreign Exchange Market.
As a result, most discussion around the Maldives is limited to “wow, so pretty.” But to understand the country only through this lens is to barely understand it at all.
Let’s take a ride through some of the most surprising facts about this colorful, dynamic, culturally diverse country — because it’s so much more than meets the eye.