Maldives Cities

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Maldives Cities by Population

16 cities shown of 16 total Maldives cities that are over 1,000 in population...

1. Male 103,693
2. Hithadhoo 9,927
3. Kulhudhuffushi 7,774
4. Thinadhoo 5,360
5. Naifaru 3,836
6. Dhidhdhoo 3,039
7. Eydhafushi 2,808
8. Mahibadhoo 2,156
9. Vilufushi 2,077
10. Meedhoo 1,726
11. Manadhoo 1,418
12. Kudahuvadhoo 1,320
13. Ugoofaaru 1,263
14. Funadhoo 1,220
15. Madifushi 1,110
16. Muli 1,008

Maldives History

Comparative studies of Maldivian oral, linguistic and cultural traditions and customs confirm that the first settlers were Dravidian people from the nearest coasts, most probably fishermen from the southwest coasts of the modern Indian Subcontinent and the western shores of modern Sri Lanka during the early Chera period. One such community is the Giraavaru people who claim ancestry from ancient Tamils. One theory suggests that the Giraavaru islanders may not have been the only early settlers in the Maldives. They are mentioned in ancient legends and local folklore about the establishment of the capital and kingly rule in Mal. The Giraavaru people are considered to be one of the earliest communities of settlers on the islands. The arrival of Sinhalese, who were descended from the exiled Prince Vijaya and his party of several hundred, in the Maldives occurred between 543 to 483 BCE. They were made to leave their native regions of Orissa and the Sinhapura kingdom in north west India. Their settlement in Sri Lanka and some of the Maldives marks a significant change in demographics and the development of the Indo-Aryan language Dhivehi a branch off language of Sinhala). There are some signs of Arab and east Asian inhabitants mostly in southernmost atolls.

Buddhism came to the Maldives 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.

First archaeological study of the remains of early cultures on the Maldives began with the work of H.C.P. Bell, a British commissioner of the Ceylon Civil Service. Bell was shipwrecked on the islands in 1879, and returned several times to investigate ancient Buddhist ruins. He studied the ancient mounds, called havitta or ustubu by the Maldivians, which are found on many of the atolls.

Although Bell asserted that the ancient Maldivians followed Theravada Buddhism, many local Buddhist archaeological remains now in the Mal Museum display in fact Mahayana and Vajrayana iconography.

In the early 11th century the Minicoy and Thiladhunmathi also possibaly other northern Atolls was conquered by the medieval Chola Tamil emperor Raja Raja Chola I, becoming a part of the Chola empire.

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