The Maldives are excellent sailors and fishermen, and have
traditionally had close contacts with the Asian continent.
From there, in the 12th century, the Islamic and Arab
influence emerged. The archipelago occupied Islam as
religion and the Sultanate as a form of government.
early European colonizers reached the Maldives, which were
naturally on the route to the Far East. But the indigenous
resistance of the natives to foreign domination forced the
Portuguese to seek alternative ports, and instead settled in
Goa on the west coast of India.
In time, however, the Maldives Sultan submitted himself
to the "siren song" of the agents of the British Empire, and
in 1887 agreed to become a British "protectorate". With its
poor economy based on the production of coconut oil, fishing
and the cultivation of tropical fruits, the islands were not
particularly economically attractive to the English. But
they had great strategic significance, which became even
greater with the opening of the Suez Canal.
The naval base on Gan Island - located at the equator -
was part of the safety chain controlling the shipping from
Gibraltar to Hong Kong over Aden and Singapore.
The locals did not care about the English, not even as a
laborer, and therefore did not do much to ensure its
education, health or welfare. Even today, the country has
only 1 teacher for every 2,000 inhabitants and only 1 doctor
for every 15,000, as well as one of the lowest registered
incomes per year. inhabitant of the world.
This situation stimulated the feelings of rebellion
against the Sultan, the only one who benefited from
colonialism in his capacity as an intermediary between the
metropolis and his people.
In 1952, the people revolted, crashed the monarch and
proclaimed the republic. The British troops intervened to
"restore peace and order" and inaugurated the Sultan on the
throne two years later. In 1957, Britain asked for
permission to expand the naval base at Gan, to install war
aircraft facilities. The proposal triggered widespread
opposition, and pro-British Prime Minister Ibrahim Alí Didi
was forced to step down. His successor, Amir Ibrahin Nasir,
rejected the proposal on the grounds that it violated the
In 1959 the people of the southern islands rebelled and
detached themselves under the name of the Republic of
Suvadiva. The experience of freedom once again became
flighty. In 1960, the 20,000 Suvadiva Republicans were
re-incorporated into the Sultanate. The colonial lords took
advantage of the situation to enter into a new agreement
with the monarch, which extended the protectorate agreement
and allowed for the maintenance and expansion of the bases.
This time, the British paid nothing - only the wages of
British soldiers and the ammunition that crushed the
rebellion in the south. But the British Empire was nearing
its end. During the 1960s, the colonial power decided to
withdraw from its strategic positions «east of Suez», while
ensuring that its interests were defended by the United
In 1965, the Maldives gained independence and were
immediately recognized by the United Nations. The Sultan
could not survive the lack of foreign support. In 1968, by a
referendum, it was decided to turn the country into a
republic, and Amir Ibrahim Nasir who had been prime minister
until then became the country's first president.
The base of Gan remained on British hands until 1975,
when the United States' building of modern war installations
on the neighboring island of Diego Garcia made it
In March 1975, President Nasir announced the unveiling of
a plot led by Prime Minister Ahmed Zaki, who was arrested on
a deserted island with a number of his supporters. Nasir had
offered to lease the abandoned military installations on Gan
to multinational companies, but this was rejected by the
legislative assembly - Majlis. Nasir acknowledged being a
minority and did not stand for a third term at the 1978
presidential election. Instead, Majlis appointed Maumoon
Gayoom - an internationally regarded Islamic intellectual.