The first settlers were believed to be the Aryans from India and
Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The islands were said to be the trading crossroads
of several maritime nations, long before European Maritime History
began. Many traders and visitors came from Arabia, China and India.
The national religion, Islam, was brought to Maldives by an Arabian
traveler and it has since then been embraced by all the locals.
The Portuguese ruled Maldives for a brief period during the 16th
century. It then became a British Protectorate in the mid-fifties
and gained full independence in July 26, 1965.
The Dihevian culture is still strong and adaptive, although performances
of traditional music and dance are not everyday events. Western
fashions and influences such as Michael Jackson, pop music and videos
are visible in the capital, as well as other foreign influences
which range from Hindi movies to Oriental martial arts. However,
when it comes to public occasions such as Muslim festivities, they
are always celebrated with a distinctive Maldivian yet Muslim touch.