The Republic of Maldives is an Asian country, located in the Indian Ocean. It consists of 1192 coral islands grouped in 26 atolls arranged in a north to south direction, spread over the Indian Ocean. It is the smallest Asian country by land area and population. Around 427,760 residents live there. The capital city is Malé, also known as the "King's Island" for its central location. The official language is Dhivehi.
Fishermen from India were the first to officially colonize these islands. Its first kingdom was established by an exiled Indian prince and disgraced son of the king of Kalinga in India. The people of the Maldives converted to Islam in 1153 A.D. and today it is a strictly Muslim nation. In 1558, the Maldives was occupied by the Portuguese. However, the Portuguese were driven out by Muhammad Thakurufaanu's eight-year guerilla war. In the 17th century, the Netherlands controlled the island, then Britain. It was only in 1963 that Britain gave up the island. Two years later, the Maldives were independent.
Maldives is a presidential republic, with extensive influence of the president as head of government and head of state.
The Order of the distinguished Leader is the highest title and was founded by King Mohamed Farid.
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