Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Thrilla in the Indian Ocean

The Maldives are a large accumulation of islands in the Indian Ocean, south and west of the country of India.  It’s mostly a tourist destination for Europeans, but was hit hard by the Tsunami last year.

But that’s only one of its problems.

The islands of the Maldives are thought to have been settled by seafaring peoples as early as 2000 years ago, and maritime trade routes used by Egyptians, Arabs and Indians used it as a stopping point.

During the 4th century, Buddhists originating from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) migrated and converted the population to Buddhism.

Due to the trade routes, the influence of Islam made its introduction around the turn of the millennia, and Maldives was an independent sultanate from about 1153 to 1968, although it was a British protectorate from 1887 until after WWII.

After British control, the country briefly converted back to a sultanate for three years, after which it was abolished and replaced with a republic.

The country is said to be the flattest on earth, with a maximum altitude of only 2.3 meters (Wikipedia).

PubliusPundit notes that there has been a major uprising in the form of protests that have been, in some cases, forcefully put down.  Opposition leaders have been imprisoned. 

The President has been in power since 1978, and has no intention of abdicating his “throne.”  He is referred to by the people as “the mullah.”

He has promised reform, but the majority of it has been entirely cosmetic.

The Maldives are so small that big media has been all but ignoring this.  However, Robert Mayer notes that there are several blogs giving local perspective to the situation.  Minivan News, Dhivehi Observer, Maldives Freeblog and Maldives Blog are all posting regularly.

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