, Dhivehi Raa'jeyge Jumhooriyya), is a South Asian island country, located in the Indian Ocean. The chain of twenty six atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to the Addu Atoll in the south.
Comprising a territory spanning roughly 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi), the Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed countries, as well as the smallest Asian country by both land area and population, with a little over over 393,500 inhabitants.
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The Maldives have been historically and culturally linked to the Indian subcontinent since the fourth century BCE.
The Maldivian archipelago was Islamised in the 12th century and consolidated as a sultanate, developing strong commercial and cultural ties with Asia and Africa.
From the mid 16th-century, the region came under the increasing influence of colonial powers, with the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887.
Independence from the United Kingdom was achieved in 1965 and a presidential republic was established in 1968 with an elected People's Majlis.
from ancient Tamilakam in the Sangam period (300 BC–AD 300), most probably fishermen from the southwest coasts of what is now the south of the Indian Subcontinent and the western shores of Sri Lanka.
One such community is the Giraavaru people descended from ancient Tamils.
They are mentioned in ancient legends and local folklore about the establishment of the capital and kingly rule in Malé.
A strong underlying layer of Dravidian population and culture survives in Maldivian society, with a clear Dravidian-Malayalam substratum in the language, which also appears in place names, kinship terms, poetry, dance, and religious beliefs.
The ensuing decades have been characterised by political instability, efforts at democratic reform, and environmental challenges posed by climate change.
The Maldives is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
It is also a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Non Aligned Movement.