Despite their very small size and small population (the Maldives has an area of 298 km², and the population is about 339 thousand), the Maldives has an interesting and, in general, glorious history. Back in 1558, the Portuguese landed on the islands. They built a fort in the Maldives and hoped to turn the islands into another possession in South Asia. But the hopes of the Portuguese did not come true. Local people fiercely repulsed them, and already in 1573, only fifteen years after landing on the island, the Portuguese were forced to leave the Maldives. Not attempted to occupy the islands and the Netherlands, which, however, were able to conquer huge Indonesia. The Maldives remained an independent sultanate, ruled by successive sultan dynasties. Since 1773, the islands have been ruled by the Huraaga dynasty. Only at the end of the 19th century did the British Empire establish a protectorate over the Maldives. From 1887 to 1965, the Maldives were a protectorate of Great Britain.
After the independence of British India, which was divided into India and Pakistan, as well as Burma and Sri Lanka, the people of the Maldives felt that it would soon come and their turn to get their own independent state. However, Britain did not rush to grant the Maldives independence. Then in April 1964 in the city of Male mass rallies took place, as a result of which crowds of protesters destroyed the airport and laid siege to the administration. The following year, 1965, the UK was forced to grant independence to the Maldives. Initially, the country remained a sultanate - after independence was proclaimed, power remained in the hands of Sultan Mohammed Farid Didi (1901-1969), who ruled from 1954 and received royal title in connection with the acquisition of sovereignty by the Maldives. However, in the 1968 year, as a result of the referendum, the Maldives was proclaimed a republic. King Mohammed Farid Didi left the throne and passed away the next year 1969.
Ibrahim Nasir Rannabaderi Kilagefanu (1926-2008) became President of the Maldives. By origin, he belonged to the Maldivian aristocracy - the descendants of the sultan dynasty of Diyomigili, who ruled the Maldives in 1704-1759 and 1767-1773. In 1957-1968 Ibrahim Nasir (pictured) served as prime minister of the Maldives Sultanate. Even then, he proved himself to be a tough administrator, managing to suppress the separatist movement in the atolls of Addu, Huvadhoo and Fouvamulla, whose twenty thousand people in 1959 proclaimed the creation of the United Republic of Suvadiva. After becoming president of the country, Ibrahim Nasir introduced a state monopoly on foreign trade, but at the beginning of the 1970s. The economic situation in the country began to deteriorate, which led to popular uprisings against the current government. Finally, in the 1978 year, Ibrahim Nasir fled to Singapore, where he lived for thirty years, until his death in the 2008 year.
After the flight of Ibrahim Nasir, Momun Abdul Gaume (born 1937) became president of the Republic of Maldives. Under Nasir, Abdul Ghayum was an opposition leader, a fighter against an authoritarian government, and was arrested several times by the authorities and placed under arrest. But as soon as he became the head of state, a reincarnation took place, worthy of the famous fairy-tale story about a tyrant dragon and his murderers, who immediately transformed themselves into similar dragons. Momun Abdul Ghayum established a no less stringent regime than his predecessor Ibrahim Nasir. Moreover, Abdul Ghayumu managed to hold power for thirty years - from 1978 to 2008 years.
For the presidency of the Maldives, Abdul Gaume (pictured) ran for five times and all five times invariably won the election with more than 90% of votes. The opposition tried to overthrow Abdul Ghayum: there were assassinations on him three times, there was an attempted coup d'état by the forces of the landed mercenaries - militants of the People’s Liberation Organization of Tamil-Elam, who broke away from the famous Tigers of the Liberation of Tamil-Elam, but all were unsuccessful.
Only in 2008, the aged president gave way to the demands of the opposition and world public opinion and agreed to re-election. This time Abdul Gaium lost the election. The new president of the Maldives is Mohammed Nasheed (born 1967) - a young politician, a man of liberal views, who received 54% of votes against 45% cast for Ghayuma. However, the government of Nashid, who was trying to carry out liberal reforms, faced many problems. The economic situation in the country worsened, which was used by the supporters of Abdul Gayum who had gone to the opposition. They accused Nashid of betraying traditional Maldivian and Islamic values and striving to turn the country into a satellite of the West. Began mass protests of the population. In response, Nasheed ordered the arrest of the head of the country's Criminal Court, Abdullah Mohammed, who was suspected of sympathizing with Abdul Ghayum. This was the last straw - the police and military personnel of the small Maldivian army went over to the side of the protesters. Mohammed Nasheed was forced on February 7 of 2012 to voluntarily resign. Then Nashid was arrested several times, but soon released.
- Mohammed Nasheed
After the removal of Nashid, presidency in 2012-2013. was occupied by the former vice-president of the country, Mohammed Wahid Hassan Manik, and in 2013, Abdul Yamin Abdul Gayum (born 1959), the stepbrother of the former president of the country Momun Abdul Gayum, was elected president. Unlike Nashid, who was oriented toward cooperation with the West, Abdulla Yamin considered that fellow believers could help solve the economic problems of the Maldives. Islam was proclaimed the main basis of the national identity of the Maldives. As it turned out, Abdul Yamin was right - Saudi Arabia began to provide assistance to the Maldives. Of course, the Saudis have begun to assert their ideological influence on the island. Saudi Arabia has financed construction in the capital of the Maldives, the city of Male Islamic University. Young Maldivians began to fall under the influence of Salafism, introduced to the islands by Saudi preachers.
- Abdullah Yamin
The ideas of religious fundamentalism in the Maldives Republic proved to be in demand. By the way, the Maldives, despite being a tourist country, is very scrupulous in matters of religion. A person who does not profess Islam cannot receive citizenship of the Maldives. At the same time, before the Maldivians could not be called religious fanatics - local Islam, as well as in other areas of South and Southeast Asia, was very moderate, combined with national customs and traditions (before the adoption of Islam, the population of the islands professed Buddhism). But the growing influence of Saudi Arabia has affected the spread of fundamentalist religious views, especially among Maldivian youth.
Despite the fact that the Maldives is a world famous, expensive and sought-after resort, the economic situation of the majority of the population of the islands remains difficult. As in other countries of South Asia, the Maldives has a high birth rate, but given the small territory, the islands are becoming more and more crowded. The capital, Malé, is considered one of the most populated cities on the planet, if we take the ratio of the number of inhabitants and the area occupied by the city. Young people from all over the country come to the capital who cannot find a job in fishing villages scattered around the atolls. But even in the city they turn out to be unclaimed, filling up the layer of the urban lumpen-proletariat. The country has a very high unemployment rate, especially among the younger generation. This affects the overall social situation, contributes to the growth of crime. Among the unemployed youth there are many drug addicts, which contributes to the flourishing of the drug business (however, the presence of a large number of wealthy tourists in the resorts of the Maldives plays its role).
Another important problem is the presence of a large number of foreigners on the islands. A significant segment of the tourism business in the Maldives is owned by English, Australian and other "white" entrepreneurs who have acquired tourist infrastructure facilities. Naturally, this situation does not like the locals, who feel deprived and confident that the country continues to be exploited by neocolonialists. In addition, they prefer to hire migrant workers, most often immigrants from Bangladesh, to work in the tourism industry. For some reason, they are considered more acceptable in the position of waiters, cooks, animators or rescuers than natives of the Maldives. This is also very disliked by the local population, which itself is without work. In addition, the tourism industry, according to fundamentalists, has a negative effect on the morality of the Maldivian population - after all, where there is a large number of wealthy holidaymakers, drugs, alcohol, and prostitution inevitably appear there, no matter how you fight it.
The risk of radicalizing the Maldivian fundamentalists is real. Currently, about 200-300 citizens of the Maldives are in Syria and Iraq, where they fight in the ranks of radical groups. When those of them who are lucky enough to survive, return home, they are unlikely to be content with the squalid life of the village fishermen or the urban unemployed fringe. Radicals have repeatedly threatened the authorities of the country with terrorist attacks. But if bombs explode in the resorts of the Maldives, for the country's economy this will be a real disaster. After all, the Maldives practically exists at the expense of two main sectors of the economy - fishing and tourism. The cessation or multiple reduction of the flow of foreign tourists will collapse the country's economy, since then the only direction for generating revenues to the state budget will remain fishing and the production of fish products. It should be borne in mind that the Maldives, due to their geographical features, are forced to deliver not only equipment or fuel, but also food, and even fresh drinking water. All these goods are purchased in other countries and, accordingly, if the country's budget revenues from tourism fall significantly, this will inevitably lead to interruptions in food and water. In turn, the "hot" Maldivian population in this case will inevitably take to the streets.
By the way, back in the 2012 year, during the mass unrest that led to the fall of President Nashid, the Maldivian radicals actively declared themselves. In the National Museum of the country was destroyed a rich collection of statues of Buddha. Among the destroyed masterpieces were the head of the Buddha of coral stone, dating from the 6th century AD. and the statue of the Six-faced Buddha of the 9th century AD Then the head of the museum reported that in fact the pogroms destroyed evidence of the entire history of the Maldives before the spread of Islam.
The exit of the Maldives from the British Commonwealth, on the one hand, came as a complete surprise. After all, quite recently, the Maldives tried by all means to keep themselves in the composition of this union, although London accused Male of repeated violations of human rights and the suppression of the opposition. Then the situation changed. Apparently, the leadership of the Maldives decided that it could well do without British patronage.
According to some experts, this may be related to the development of Maldivian-Chinese relations. Although, unlike India, which throughout the entire postcolonial history of the Maldives, remains the country's main political, economic and military partner and has repeatedly solved the internal problems of Malé (for example, it saved Abdul Ghayum from overthrowing the landing party), China prefers not to participate in the political life of the country, both the Maldives and China benefit from the economic cooperation of the two states. It turns out that the Maldives is trying to maintain good relations with two eternal rivals and competitors for influence in South and Southeast Asia - with India and with China. By the way, leaving the British Commonwealth, the representatives of the Maldives explained this decision by saying that "the Commonwealth of Nations does not recognize the progress and achievements that the Maldives have achieved in nurturing a culture of democracy in the country, as well as building and strengthening democratic institutions."
The exit of the Maldives from the British Commonwealth seems to be aimed at demonstrating by President Abdulla Yamin his independence and unwillingness to be influenced by the West. Such a move, as the presidential entourage counts, will help to win the sympathy of the country's population, first of all, of the religious-conservative circles, who have always extremely negative attitude towards cooperation with Western countries, including Great Britain. On the other hand, the exit from the community also contributes to the greater economic independence of the Maldives in the direction of expanding and deepening further economic cooperation with China.