About Maldives

The Maldives lies in two rows of atolls in the Indian Ocean, just across the equator. The country is made up of 1,190 coral islands formed around 26 natural ring-like atolls, spread over 90,000 square kilometers.

Ninety-nine percent of the Maldives is sea. The people of the islands are widely dispersed across the atolls, with about 200 inhabited islands. Around 140 islands are developed as tourist resorts and the rest are uninhabited or used for agriculture and other livelihood purposes.

The islands of the Maldives lay on the trading route of the Indian Ocean. Thus settlers, and visitors from neighbouring regions and around the world have come in contact with the islands for as long as history has been recorded. Such is the to-and-fro flow of people and their cultures, that a marked effect has been left in the Maldivian people, the language, beliefs, arts, and attitudes.

The livelihood of Maldivians traditionally depended on the seas, fishery being the main source of sustenance. While fishery still contributes significantly to the economy in terms of employment and income, tourism is the main source of income for the Maldivian economy today.


Before the twentieth century, the most popular form of poetry in Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan language that is the official language of the Maldives, was known as raivaru. This form of poetry utilized a poetic device termed bas olhuvun, which literally means ‘word scrambling’, and refers to the scrambling of syllables.

Poetry is important in Maldivian literary culture. Bodufenvalhuge Sidi (intellectual, writer), Saikuraa Ibrahim Naeem (writer, government officer), and Ibrahim Shihab (poet, writer, essayist, statesman) are among the many writers and poets who have emerged onto the Maldivian literary scene.

Find out more about the Maldives





Dhivehi is the national language of the Maldives and has been shaped by various languages including Arabic, French, Portuguese, Persian and English.


516,000 (2018)



High Commissioner

HE Dr Farah Faizal



Joined Commonwealth

1982; withdrew 13 October 2016; rejoined 1 February 2020

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Episode guests

Dr Farah Faizal

HE Dr Farah Faizal

HE Dr Farah Faizal served as the High Commissioner of Maldives to the UK as well as non-resident Ambassador to Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, Spain and Sweden from 2009 – 2012. Following the overthrow of the government in Maldives in February 2012, Dr Faizal resigned and served as the Spokesperson in Europe for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). She represented the former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed at the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group during the CMAG’s enquiry into the change of government in Maldives as well as serving as a Foreign Policy Advisor to the MDP. With the change of government in November 2018, she was appointed Ambassador to the UK.

Dr. Faizal graduated from the University of Keele, UK in 1989, with a BA (Hons) degree in International Relations and in 1991 she completed her M.Phil in International Relations at the University of Cambridge. In 1996, Dr. Faizal completed a PhD in Politics from the University of Hull, UK. Her thesis was on the “Security Problems of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with particular reference to the SIDS of the Indian Ocean”.

Dr. Faizal co-edited a book “A clearing in the thicket: Women, Security, South Asia”​ published in 2005 by Sage. The book explores women’s perspectives on matters of security and related policy, focusing on women in South Asia who are battling society, insecurity and violence.

Hearts of Stone

by Farah Didi

we are persistence,
and you intolerance,
embodied in human form,

hastily you whip up hatred,
like the storm clouds
during the monsoon,
gust after gust after gust,
you come down on us,

like locust swarms flying
a thousand miles from across the seas
you engulf our nostrils, our eyes,
our faces with pepper spray,

and you laugh today,

your hearts made of stone,

ours made of supple sponge
soft yet strong;
absorbing; absolving;
our patience
and our prayers