United Suvadive Republic


Armed Forces




Since very ancient times, the Maldives islands were ruled by kings (Radun) sultans and occasionally queens (Ranin) sultanas. Historically Maldives has had a strategic importance because of its location on the major routes of the Indian Ocean. Maldives' nearest neighbors Sri Lanka and India, have had cultural and economic ties with Maldives for centuries.

In 1558 the Portuguese established a small garrison with a Viador (Viyazoru), or overseer of a trading warehouse in the Maldives, which they administered from their main colony in Goa. Fifteen years later, a local leader named Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Azam and his brother organized a popular revolt and drove the Portuguese out of Maldives.

In the mid-seventeenth century, the Dutch, who had replaced the Portuguese as the dominant power in Ceylon, established hegemony over Maldivian affairs without involving themselves directly in local matters, which were governed according to centuries-old Islamic customs.

However, the British expelled the Dutch from Ceylon in 1796 and included Maldives as a British protected area. The status of Maldives as a British protectorate was officially recorded in an 1887 agreement in which the sultan accepted British influence over Maldivian external relations and defense. The British had no presence, however, on the leading island community of Malé. They left the islanders alone, as had the Dutch, with regard to internal administration to continue to be regulated by Muslim traditional institutions.

During the British era, which lasted until 1965, Maldives continued to be ruled under a succession of sultans.[1] It was a period during which the Sultan's authority and powers were increasingly and decisively taken over by the Chief Minister, much to the chagrin of the British Governor-General who continued to deal with the ineffectual Sultan. Consequently, Britain encouraged the development of a constitutional monarchy, and the first Constitution was proclaimed in 1932. However, the new arrangements favoured neither the ageing Sultan nor the Chief Minister, but rather young British-educated reformists. As a result, angry mobs were instigated against the Constitution which was publicly torn up. Maldives remained a British crown protectorate until 1953 when the sultanate was suspended and the First Republic was declared under the short-lived presidency of Muhammad Amin Didi. In 1954 the sultanate was restored.

In 1956 Maldives granted the British a 100 year lease on Gan, where they had established an airfield that required them to pay £2,000 a year.


United Suvadive Republic


Emblem of the Suvadive Republic


In 1957, however, a new prime minister, Ibrahim Nasir, called for a review of the agreement in the interest of shortening the lease and increasing the annual payment. But Nasir was challenged in 1959 by a local separatist movement in the southern atolls that benefited economically from the British presence on Gan. The movement cut its ties with the Maldives government and formed an independent state with Abdullah Afif as president.

The short-lived state (1959-63), was called the United Suvadive Republic. In 1962 Nasir sent gunboats from Malé with government police on board to eliminate elements opposed to his rule. One year later the Suvadive republic was overthrown and Abdulla Afif went into exile to the Seychelles.




On July 26, 1965, Maldives gained independence under an agreement signed with the United Kingdom. The British government retained the use of the Gan and Hitaddu facilities. In a national referendum in March 1968, Maldivians abolished the sultanate and a Second Republic was proclaimed in November 1968


The National Emblem




Sultan Hasan Nur ud-din (1935-’43)

On his fez a crescent-and-star crested with ostrich-feathers

National and Merchant Flag 1933 ca-1965


The National emblem of the Maldives is known from 1960, the time of the Kingdom of the Maldives (1954-1965) when it appeared on coins. It is inspired by the cap badge of the sultan consisting of a crescent and star, crowned with a diadem with three ostrich-feathers as worn by sultan Hasan Nur ud-din (1935-’43) and king Muhammad Farid I (1954-’69).

The emblem consists of a palmtree charged with a crescent-and-star supported by two national flags.

Below is a scroll with the name of the country: Al Daulat al Mahldîbîa (State of the Thousand Islands).

In the first version the flags are green charged with a white crescent, surrounded by a red bordure and a narrow mast-end bendy of black and white.

At the gaining of independence on 26 july 1965 the flag was changed by replacing the crescent by a star.

On 11 November 1968, when the second republic was proclaimed, the flag was changed again by removing the narrow mast-end and restoring  the crescent.

The emblem was changed accordingly.


Æ  See illustration in the head of this essay.


Royal and Presidential Flag


Royal Flag 1954-65


Royal and Presidential Flag 1965-present


The crescent symbolizing the state, the crescent-and-star the head of state.


The presidential seal shows the national emblem surrounded by the name of the country and ‘president’ in maldive script, separated by five-pointed stars.

Presidential seal


Armed Forces


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Emblem of the Maldives National Defence Force


On the flag this emblem is in the middle of two breadths white and black.



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Emblem of the Maldives Coast Guard




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Maldive Police Service Arms


On the flag this emblem is in the middle of a dark-blue background



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© Hubert de Vries 2012-01-17



[1] For  a list of sultans see the Royal Ark website: