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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 entire way of life 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.
Today the people of the Maldives continue to live as
they always have, reliant on the ocean. 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.
With the introduction of Islam in the 1100s the people changed their lifestyles
to match that required by this new religion that arrived from traders. This slightly
changed the diet and influenced many other social habits of the people.
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. For the average person there is little
notice of these changes, but the government has more money to work with so infrastructure,
education, healthcare, and other government-financed sectors are expanding.
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