The arrival of Muslims to the islands most likely came from the Middle East. As
a center of trade in the Indian Ocean a number of people had contact with the Maldives and it is likely that people from the Middle
East arrived through these passageways to either convert the people or to gain access
to their cowrie shell trade, which also demanded their conversion.
The Maldives' rule of trade with India,
Sri Lanka, and much of Asia and East
Africa ended with the arrival and domination of the Indian Ocean by the
Europeans in the 1500s and 1600s. This began with the Portuguese
arriving in 1558, but about 15 years later the people revolted and the Portuguese
left. Shortly after this the Dutch took control of the
Maldives foreign affairs, but left domestic affairs alone, establishing better relations
than the Portuguese had.
In 1796 the British had taken India
and soon made their way south to the Maldives, making it
an official British protectorate about a century later in 1887, however, like the
Dutch only controlled their foreign relations.
In 1932 the Maldives adopted a Constitution, but this document
was essentially written to support those who supported the
British and soon it had been destroyed as both the Sultan and the Chief
Minister remained in limbo with power being undefined. This state continued until
1953 when the Sultanate position (an elected position) was overthrown and a republic