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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.Despite being just mentioned briefly in most history books, the 1,400-year-long Buddhist period has a foundational importance in the history of the Maldives.It was during this period that the culture of the Maldives as we now know it both developed and flourished.
Malabari seafaring culture led to the settlement of the Islands by Malayali seafarers.
The importance of the Arabs as traders in the Indian Ocean by the 12th century may partly explain why the last Buddhist king of Maldives Dhovemi converted to Islam in the year 1153 (or 1193), adopting the Muslim title of Sultan Muhammad al Adil, and initiating a series of six Islamic dynasties that lasted until 1932 when the sultanate became elective.
The formal title of the Sultan up to 1965 was, Sultan of Land and Sea, Lord of the twelve-thousand islands and Sultan of the Maldives which came with the style Highness.
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).
It is also a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non Aligned Movement.