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.Arab Traders had converted populations in the Malabar Coast since the 7th century, and Muhammad Bin Qāsim had converted large swathes of Sindh to Islam at about the same time.
The person traditionally deemed responsible for this conversion was a Sunni Muslim visitor named Abu al Barakat, stemming either from the Maghreb (as according to Ibn Battutah His venerated tomb now stands on the grounds of Hukuru Mosque, or miski, in the capital of Malé.
Built in 1656, this is the oldest mosque in Maldives.
Following the Islamic concept that before Islam there was the time of Jahiliya (ignorance), in the history books used by Maldivians the introduction of Islam at the end of the 12th century is considered the cornerstone of the country's history.
Compared to the other areas of South Asia, the conversion of the Maldives to Islam happened relatively late.
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.
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.
The Maldives was a Commonwealth republic from July 1982 until its withdrawal from the Commonwealth in October 2016 in protest of international criticism of its records in relation to corruption and human rights.