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History of Maldives

The Maldives cleverly managed to escape too much colonial repression while its larger neighbours succumbed. The Portuguese got a taste of local grit when on having forced their way into power, killing the sultan, and generally overstaying their welcome, they were given a taste of their own medicine. In 1573, 15 years after Captain Andreas Andre established his rule, the local chief killed the entire Portuguese garrison in Male. After this the British and Dutch chose mostly to stay away till 1887 when the British were invited to participate in the island’s economic life.

It was the domination of the Borah merchants of Bombay in the 1860s that forced this move. Fed up with the tight control that these outsiders exercised over the local economy, Sultan Mohammed Muenuddin II signed an agreement with the British. It made Maldives a British protectorate state and allowed the British to use the islands as a military base.

Maldives became a completely independent sultanate in 1965, and three years later a completely independent republic. The Prime Minister of many years Ibrahim Nasir was elected President. In 1978 the present President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom succeeded Nasir to the highest post. In 1980 President Gayoom set up a special citizens’ majlis (committee) to recommend constitutional changes. These were implemented in 1998.


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