Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Sent by Janeth, a TravBuddy from Maldives. Thanks for sending me the first from Maldives.
This is from Wikipedia : The Maldives (/ˈmɒldaɪvz/ or /ˈmɒldiːvz/), (Dhivehi: ދިވެހިރާއްޖެ , Dhivehi Raa'je), officially Republic of Maldives (Dhivehi: ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގެ ޖުމްހޫރިއްޔާ , Dhivehi Raa'jeyge Jumhooriyya), is an island nation in the Indian Ocean formed by a double chain of twenty-six atolls stretching in a north-south direction off India's Lakshadweep islands, between Minicoy Island and Chagos Archipelago. It stands in the Laccadive Sea, about seven hundred kilometers (435 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka and (250 mi) south-west of India. During the colonial era, the Dutch referred to the country as Maldivische Eilanden in their documentation, while Maldive Island is the anglicized version of the local name used by the British, which later came to be written 'Maldives'.
This chain of islands is located archipelago among the Lakshadweep-Maldives-Chagos group of islands, which are in reality the tops of a vast undersea mountain range, in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The atolls of the Maldives encompass a territory spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometers, making it one of the most dispersed countries in the world in geographic terms. It features 1,192 islets, of which two hundred are inhabited. The Republic of Maldives's capital and largest city is Malé, with a population of 103,693 (2006). It is located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll, in the Kaafu Atoll. It is also one of the Administrative divisions of the Maldives. Traditionally it was the King's Island, from where the ancient Maldive Royal dynasties ruled and where the palace was located.
The Maldives are the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. With an average ground level of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the lowest country on the planet. It is also the country with the lowest highest point in the world, at 2.3 metres (7 ft 7 in).
The name Maldives may derive from Mahal'deeb, and the people were called Maldivian 'Dhivehin'. The word Dheeb/Deeb (archaic Dhivehi, related to Sanskrit dvīp (द्वीप)) means "island", and Dhives (Dhivehin) means "islanders" (in other words, the Maldivians). During the colonial era, the Dutch referred to the country as Maldivische Eilanden in their documentation, while Maldive Islands is the anglicized version of the local name used by the British, which later came to be written as Maldives.
The ancient Sri Lankan chronicle, The Mahawamsa, refers to an island called Mahiladiva ("Island of Women", ंअहिलदिभ) in Pali, which is probably a mistranslation of the same Sanskrit word meaning "garland". The Mahawamsa is derived from an even older Sinhala work dating back to the 2nd century BC.
Some scholars theorize that the name Maldives derives from the Sanskrit mālādvīpa (मालाद्वीप), meaning "garland of islands". None of the names are mentioned in any literature, but classical Sanskrit texts dating back to the Vedic times mention the "Hundred Thousand Islands" (Lakshadweepa), a generic name which would include not only the Maldives, but also the Laccadives, Amindivi Islands, Minicoy and the Chagos island groups.
Some medieval travelers such as Ibn Batuta called the islands "Mahal Dibiyat" (محل دبيأت) from the Arabic word Mahal ("palace"), which must be what the Moorish Berber traveler interpreted of the local name having been through Muslim north India where Perso-Arabic words were introduced into the local vocabulary . This is the name currently inscribed in the scroll of the Maldive state emblem. The classical Persian/Arabic name for Maldives is Dibajat.
Philostorgius, an Arian Greek historian who relates (circa AD 354) about a Divoeis (the Divaeans) hostage after fulfilling his mission to the Homerites, sailed to his island home known as Divus (Maldives). The name Maldives also might have come from the Sinhalese word මාල දිවයින Maala Divaina ("Necklace Islands"), perhaps referring to the shape of the archipelago.
The local language of Maldives which is now called 'DHIVEHI' could be coming from the Sanskrit word 'DAIVEHI' meaning 'Godly'. As even after the development of Dhivehi and its Arabic look alike alphabets, most of its words are similar in pronunciation and meaning to words in 'Hindi' or other Prakrit language which has its origin in 'Sanskrit' in turn.