Maldives Celebrates 54 Years of Nationhood

Maldives celebrates 54 years of independence from the United Kingdom on July 26.

Although governed as an independent Islamic sultanate from 1153 to 1968, the Maldives was a British protectorate from 1887 until 25 July 1965. On December 16, 1887, the Sultan of the Maldives signed a contract with the British Governor of Ceylon turning the Maldives into a British protectorate, losing her sovereignty in matters of foreign policy (Sajid, 2014).

Independence for Maldives was significant because it enabled the country to seize control over its own economy and develop itself as it pleased.

When the Prime Minister Ibrahim Nasir signed the agreement for independence with the British, the population in Maldives was merely 97,743. Both Sri Lanka and India, nearby countries under the same colonial power, had managed to gain independence from Britain at the conclusion of the World War. Maldives was particularly moved to seek this independence after three southern atolls were claimed as part of a brief Suvadive Republic between 1959 and 1963. Within two months of being granted this independence, Maldives gained membership at the United Nations (September 21, 1965). The country’s flag was then raised at the headquarters on the 12th of October 12, 1965.

Celebrations

If you were to visit Maldives in July, you would be promised a show on the 26th. Every year, the country celebrates its Independence Day with a series of festivities held in on the island of Male’. The entire country is very much connected through a series of ferries, and most events you can expect to encounter on Independence Day will be held at Republic Square in the heart of the Male’ Island. Here are a few things that are promised each year during these festivities at the Square:

  • A series of festivities led by the National Security Services
  • Parades also lead by the National Cadet Corps
  • A variety of performances done by school children who are dressed in very colorful costumes

Although the country is not very large or populated, and although the island Male’ is even smaller, these festivities are a regular show come Independence Day in Maldives. You can bank on seeing a number of performances by the local youth as well as the parades led by a variety of groups. One of the favorite instruments of the Maldivians is a bulbul, an instrument that is similar to an accordion but which is held horizontally. There is also the Bodu Beru, or “Big Drum”, which has possible African roots. This is an interesting bit of culture as most of the Maldivian language and lifestyle seems to be derived from a North Indian origin. Exposure to this festive side of the culture in Maldives on Independence Day is a rapid way to learn what it’s like to be Maldivian (Public Holidays Asia, 2019).

Reference:

  1. Public Holidays Asia (2019). Independence Day 2019 2020 in Maldives. Retrieved from: https://publicholidays.asia/maldives/independence-day/
  2. Sajid, M. (26 July 2014). Happy Independence Day! Retrieved from: http://maldives.net.mv/2157/happy-independence-day/ Pictures:

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