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first published in 1563 as follows: "I must tell you that I have heard it said that the natives do not call it Maldiva but Nalediva.In the Malabar language nale means four and diva island.

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The ensuing decades have been characterised by political instability, efforts at democratic reform, The Maldives is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).Buddhism probably spread to the Maldives in the 3rd century BC at the time of Emperor Ashoka's expansion, and became the dominant religion of the people of the Maldives until the 12th century AD.The ancient Maldivian Kings promoted Buddhism, and the first Maldive writings and artistic achievements, in the form of highly developed sculpture and architecture, are from that period.Their settlement marks a significant change in demographics and the development of the Indo-Aryan language Dhivehi language.Isdhoo Lōmāfānu is the oldest copper-plate book to have been discovered in the Maldives to date.Malabari seafaring culture led to the settlement of the Islands by Malayali seafarers.

The earliest written history of the Maldives was marked by the arrival of Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka and the Maldives (Mahiladvipika) circa 543 to 483 BC, as reported in the Mahavansa.

The Maldivian archipelago took to Islam 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 European colonial powers, with the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887.

Built in 1656, this is the oldest mosque in Maldives.

Following the Islamic concept that before Islam there was the time of Jahiliya (ignorance), in the history books used by Maldivians the introduction of Islam at the end of the 12th century is considered the cornerstone of the country's history.

Nearly all archaeological remains in the Maldives are from Buddhist stupas and monasteries, and all artifacts found to date display characteristic Buddhist iconography.