A Surprising Fact About the Maldives

It may be controversial to write, but I have found movies and cartoons to be more accurate than expected when portraying foreign places. The Simpson’s Australia episode is spot on in showing the sheer amount of nothingness within the country. Marrakech is straight out of Aladdin.

The Maldives absolutely does not fit into any preconceived notions that I had about the country – AT ALL.

We went to the Maldives for our honeymoon back in 2011. It was a stop on our cruise after Sri Lanka and before the Seychelles. The Maldives sounds exotic and crazy beautiful, and the truth is that it both of those things. It is also the world’s lowest country, averaging less than 5 feet above sea level. They are a country with an action plan because of global warming. If your country looks like this, you should probably be pretty concerned:

Maldives - Maldives Sea Plane Flight View

Maldives - Maldives Sea Plane Flight

Did you also know that the capital city, the island of Malé, is more densely populated than both Manhattan and Hong Kong?

Maldives Sea Plane Flight Male Island

But more surprising than that, did you know that the Maldives is a conservative Muslim country?! I did not!

The Maldives has been historically influenced by trade, so nearly one thousand years ago, the entire island was converted to Islam by (they think) a traveler from Morocco. So despite their dozens of resorts that sit on small islands and atolls within the Maldives, you actually have to be quite covered and mindful of this culture if you visit the capital of Malé. If you’re at a resort, anything goes – skimpy swimsuits, whatever. Since the airport is located on its own island and most resorts will transport you via boat directly from the airport to their property, most visitors never know how different things are in Malé. I’ve spoken to many people who have visited the Maldives on their honeymoon and they had no idea.

The Maldives is really just like anywhere else...

The Maldives is really just like anywhere else…

Let me be very clear – I don’t care that they are Muslim. The interesting thing here is the dichotomy between the perception of the island and the experience of its visitors versus the actual culture and way of life of the population. While most countries that are somewhat dependent on tourism also have this dichotomy, I’ve yet to find a difference as pronounced as that of the Maldives. There are politicians and citizens who do not agree with these differences that exist between the resorts and the rest of the country. They try to ban alcohol, pork, PDAs, spas and convert to same-sex beaches. But even when they passed a law banning spas and alcohol a few years back, it only lasted for a few days before it was completely thrown out because it would damage tourism too much.

There you have it…the more you know.

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