Maldives Population, People, Languages and Religions

By | January 21, 2022

Maldives Country Overview

Where is Maldives located? The Maldives is an island country in the Indian Ocean. Only 20% of the 1,196 islands are inhabited. On the time zone map you can see that the time zone where the Maldives will be located is called “Maledives Time” (MVT). There is a time difference of 5 hours in this world time zone. Accordingly, clocks in Maldivia are 5 clocks later than coordinated world time (UTC+5). There is no changeover to daylight saving time in summer.

Maldives National Flag

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Maldives is 391,904, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 391,904
Population growth rate -0.08%
Birth rate 16.10 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall 74.92 years
Men 72.65 years
Women 77.31 years
Age structure
0-14 years 21.62%
15-64 years 73.84%
65 years and above 4.53%
Median age 27.40 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 1.34
Population density 1,315.11 residents per km²
Urbanization 28.80%
84% Maldivians; 16% foreigners – residents of Arab, Sinhala, and Malay descent
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.719
HDI ranking 104th out of 194

People in Maldives

Around 220 of the 1196 islands in the Maldives are inhabited by around 530,000 people. Almost one in three lives in the capital, Malé. Around 7000 people live on Hitadu Island and around 200 to 300 people live together in a village community on the rest. However, the residents of the Maldives themselves have no name for “village”, because that is synonymous with the word “island”.

The residents of the islands often have little contact with one another. 87 islands are pure hotel islands. For a long time the tourists lived here strictly separated from the locals who work as servants on the tourist islands. In the meantime, these regulations have been loosened somewhat, so that guest houses are offered to tourists on some inhabited islands.

Life as a fisherman

Fishing is crucial for the lives of many people. The men are mostly out in their boats all day long to catch fish. Incidentally, these are usually fished out of the water with a fishing rod. This is a very environmentally friendly way of fishing. This prevents dolphins from being accidentally caught.

The caught fish then ends up on the market and is sold there. This is how the island’s residents, who incidentally call themselves Dhivehi, earn a small income. Most of them remain poor, however.

Mixed roots

Since the Maldives are on the trade route of the Indian Ocean, there was always contact and exchange between the residents of the Maldivian islands with seafarers and visitors from the neighboring regions.

This mixed cultures and their manners and customs. The residents of the individual islands or villages often look very different, depending on which ancestors they look back on. These came from South and Southeast Asia, but also from the African and Arab regions.

Languages in Maldives

The national language is also called Dhivehi and has its own script called Thaana. This language is an Indo-European language related to Old Sinhala. You will also find loan words that come from the Arabic, Indian, Tamil or English-speaking areas. In addition, there are many dialects due to the island location, as each village community has developed a special form.

Many people speak English on islands with tourists. In the small villages, however, only the national language is usually spoken. The islands’ residents also include several thousand migrant workers, most of whom come from Sri Lanka, but also from India or Europe, and work in tourism or in education.

Religions in Maldives

It is not exactly known where the residents of the Maldives originally came from. Presumably seafarers from the African, Arab or Malaysian regions had lost their way to the islands. Maybe they liked it there so much that they just stayed.

The Islam is now the religion of the Maldives. 100 out of 100 people live their Muslim faith, with a Sunni orientation. Since 2008, only Muslims have been granted Maldivian citizenship. Islam came to the islands as early as the 12th century along with Arab trades. It is the state religion and the Shari’a is the basis of jurisdiction on the islands.

But despite the Islamic faith, old traditions have been preserved in the Maldives. So the belief of the residents is actually more of a mixture of different religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. So Allah is considered the only god, but some spirits are also honored. The Maldivians like to pray to the responsible spirits, who are called Jinnis, when problems arise.