Living in the Maldives
The Maldives is an archipelago that boasts an abundance of white, sandy beaches with alluring cyan-blue waters. Its ideal location in the Indian Ocean makes it a home not just to various incredible diving and snorkelling sites but also to expats who want to improve their careers while enjoying life in a paradise-like country.
The Republic of Maldives is considered as the smallest country in Southern Asia which covers a total land area of only 298 square kilometres. It is comprised of 1,192 coral islands whereas 200 are inhabited and around 80 functions as tourist resorts. Unlike most popular destinations where the population is high, Maldives only has an estimated population of 373, 471 in 2016. Nearly a third of this island’s total number of inhabitants is comprised of expatriates, and a vast majority are from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. Life in this archipelago is a bit laid back compared to Western or European standard but its simplicity can not be mistaken for dull or boredom. Maldives Islands let you chase your dreams while enjoying exciting water activities amidst the undeniable beauty of the wild, tropical nature.
Since Maldives is renowned across the world for its pristine beaches, it is already evident that most fun activities here are related to water. This archipelago is one of the top 5 whale watching destinations in the world and whether you are a single expat or with kids, the Whale Submarine Adventure will undoubtedly capture your attention. The tourist-magnet Whale Submarine is a large underwater vessel that allows people to have a close look at the island’s rare aquatic animals and coral reef life. Aside from sightseeing, scuba diving is also one of the most popular activities in Maldives. The best time of the year to dive is between the January and April when the sun is shining, the sea is at calmest, and the visibility of the water can reach 30m.
In the recent years, Maldives also allowed people to roam in other islands without needing to stay in a particular resort. Now, expats can explore other beaches and surfing destinations in Maldives without worrying about being among a multitude of tourists. Water sports in this archipelago include kayaking, parasailing, kite surfing and jet skiing. Expat parents in Maldives can also enlist their children to kids' clubs where they will enjoy activities such as puppet theatres, dressing up boxes, organised treasure hunts and biking around the island dressed as pirates.
The Maldivian Cuisine
The Maldivian cuisine has strong influences from Sri Lanka and India considering that a huge number of the population are nationals from those two countries. There are three main components of an authentic local dish: mas (fish) particularly kandu mas (tuna), coconut and starch. Maldivian foods are characterised as being hot and spicy with only few vegetables. Expats will soon notice that one of the most common meals that they are about to eat in this island has garudhiya (clear fish broth) served with a side dish of onions, lime and chilli. Maldive fish is often flaked or pounded into tiny pieces and used as flavouring. It is also used as filling for short eats, a dough-wrapped pastry often served as a snack.
Because of the rich Indian influence, riha (curries) also became popular in Maldives. It is usually accompanied by roshie which is unleavened bread similar to the papadhu and roti of India. Other staples of the local food are Mas Huni (tuna and coconut mix served during breakfast), Fihunu Mas (fish barbeque basted with chilli), bambukeylu hiti (breadfruit curry) and theluli mas (fried fish mixed with garlic and chilli.
Islam: The National Religion
Maldives is an Islamic country where the holy month of Ramazan is being observed every year. During this religious observance, the people take their dinner a few hours before dusk and fast until sunset with no meals in between. Come breakfast; the Maldivian will gather on the streets and share their home-cooked meals as a way of festivity. However, not all people will have a full breakfast right away. Expats will notice that the more religious locals only take juice then go back to the mosque for prayer.
Islam is also the national and only religion in Maldives. No other religious practices are allowed, and all Maldivian belong to the Sunni sect. By the Islamic faith, the people of Maldives firmly believe that one can go to heaven or hell depending on how he adheres to the five tenets of their religion. They consider someone worthy to enter heaven if they were able to faithfully repeat the creed: ‘There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah’.
Islam also dictates the way of life in this island. For example, purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited to Muslims. Expats in Maldives should also know that swimwear or clothes that show too much skin is fine as long as they are inside the beach resorts but when it comes to other parts of the island, it is best to dress conservatively. Though you may not be practicing Islam, it is still best to respect the local traditions and etiquettes that are significantly influenced by the locals’ religion.
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