The Maldives has always been a unique nation. Apart from a period of Portuguese domination in the sixteenth century and carrying the status of a British Protectorate from 1887 to 1965, the archipelago has been an independent nation for at least twenty-five centuries.
The Maldives is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement. The Maldives maintains a very cordial relationship with the international community and the Maldivians themselves take pride in their hospitality and friendliness! The population of the Maldives currently stands slightly in excess of a quarter of a million. A common language (Dhivehi) and a religion (Islam) have been two blessings that unite the people into a cohesive and peaceful society. Pride is taken in tradition though not at the expense of development and modernization.
Maldivians are generally not race conscious, perhaps because the country has been inhabited for centuries during which visitors from as far apart as China, Africa, Arabia and Persia have been assimilated into the society. This tradition of welcoming visitors continues.