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A strong underlying layer of Dravidian population and culture survives in Maldivian society, with a clear Tamil-Malayalam substratum in the language, which also appears in place names, kinship terms, poetry, dance, and religious beliefs.Malabari seafaring culture led to the settlement of the Islands by Malayali seafarers.
Compared to the other areas of South Asia, the conversion of the Maldives to Islam happened relatively late.It is also a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non Aligned Movement.The World Bank classifies the Maldives as having an upper middle income economy.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.Their settlement marks a significant change in demographics and the development of the Indo-Aryan language Dhivehi language.The Maldivian language, the first Maldive scripts, the architecture, the ruling institutions, the customs and manners of the Maldivians originated at the time when the Maldives were a Buddhist kingdom.
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.Malé is the capital and most populated city, traditionally called the "King's Island" for its central location.The Maldives archipelago is located atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean, which also forms a terrestrial ecoregion, together with the Chagos and the Lakshadweep.Independence from the United Kingdom was achieved in 1965 and a presidential republic was established in 1968 with an elected People's Majlis.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).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.