Maldivians are friendly and extremely down to earth. Ethnically they are a mix of different descendants, and most trace their roots to the Sinhalese people who arrived first from Sri Lanka. Others are descendants of South Indian and Arab traders and sailors. Traits and customs prevalent also prove the fact that the Gujratis sailed from India during the Indus Valley period and settled in Maldives. Because of the country' s location on the main sea route on the Indian Ocean, it has been the meeting place for African, Arab, Malay and Indonesian mariners for a long period of time. In Male, most residents are the Giraavarus, who are considered to be descendents of the Tamils of South India and follow a unique set of customs and traditions, different from the rest of the Maldivian race. For instance, the women tie their hair into a neat bun on the right side unlike the rest of the country, who tie it on the left side.
Maldivians have dark complexions and an athletic build. Most of them are either football players or excellent divers. Young citizens of Maldives are encouraged to take part in sports and other games. Education is given a lot of importance in the country and everybody is encouraged to go for higher education.
Almost all Maldivians belong to the Sunni Muslim sect and are very spiritual and religious minded. They are extremely family oriented. They are respectful of one another, especially to visitors. Often they can be seen as shy, but friendly. Another trait very prevalent amongst the Maldivians is that they are very superstitious.
The Maldivians live on only about 200 of the country’s 1,192 islands. Most Maldivians are employed in the tourism or fishing industries. A large number of Maldivian men go to sea everyday in thousands of boats to catch fish. Most build their boats of coconut or other timber that grows on the islands. The fishermen sail 15 to 20 miles out from the islands and use rods and reels to haul in bonito, tuna and other fish. When the boats return home, the women prepare the fish. They cook and smoke them over a fire. Most of the fish are exported to Japan and Sri Lanka. Fish is a staple of the Maldivian diet. Other staples are coconuts, papayas, pineapples, pomegranates and sweet potatoes.