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name Maldives, which is the Anglicized version of the local name, which likely comes
from the Sanskrit words mala, which means "garland" and the word
dvipa, which means "island." The name may also derive from the
Sinhalese words maala divaina, which means "necklace islands."
The way of life in the Maldives is intimately tied to the ocean as the entire country
hardly keeps its head above water. The people, their culture, and their lifestyle
revolve around the water and what it provides. Most people get their food from the
ocean, live near the ocean, and are susceptible to the ocean and its fury. For most
people this means life is simple as the people remain reliant on the lands and seas.
Today there have been few changes in the culture or lifestyle of the Maldives. In
fact there have only been two large changes that have substantially altered the
way of life on the islands: the introduction of Islam and tourism. While Islam has
truly affected nearly every citizen, tourism has only made a substantial impact
on the lifestyle of a small number of people, although this industry's influence
is continuous growing and makes a substantial secondary impact on nearly everyone.
With the introduction of Islam in the 1100s the people changed their lifestyles
to match that required by this new religion, which arrived from traders. This slightly
changed the diet and influenced many other social habits of the people. Even today
most of the people follow Islamic laws to some degree as social interactions, diet,
and daily schedule are all effected by this religion to some degree.
The second major change to the way of life in the Maldives came with tourism. This
change doesn't affect the majority of people directly, but its presence alters
the entire dynamic and economy on the islands. With this industry, the number of
service jobs has risen sharply and the standards of living have risen as money floods
into the country. Tourism is also slowly changing the people's mindset on numerous
issues as liberal thoughts are regularly brought in with tourists.
For the average person there is little notice of these changes, but the government
has more money so infrastructure, education, healthcare, and other government-financed
sectors are expanding. Even for the people not working directly with tourists, many
occupations are in higher demand to provide for the tourists as incomes rise and
the country is slowly becoming wealthier and better educated.
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