Maldivians ( ދިވެހިން, divehin), also called Maldive Islanders are a nation and ethnic group native to the historic region of the Maldive Islands comprising what is now the Republic of Maldives and the island of Minicoy in Union territory of Lakshadweep, India. All Maldivians share the same culture and speak the Maldivian language which is a member of the southern group of Indo-Aryan languages. For ethnographic and linguistic purposes as well as geo-political reasons anthropologists divide the Maldivian people into 3 subgroups:
The main group of Maldivians, numbering more than 250,000. This is the group inhabiting the numerous atolls stretching from Ihavandhippolhu (Haa Alif) to Haddhunmathi (Laamu) in Maldives. They constitute over 70% of the total population of all Maldivians. In a larger scale, the third group also comes under this group. From this group, it is the standard dialect of Maldivian language which is spoken in the Maldives capital Male' along with the central atolls. Slighter variants which are very closely related to the former are spoken in rest of the islands from the far north of Maldives down to Laamu Atoll.
The southern group of Maldivians, living in the three southernmost atolls of the equatorial zone (Huvadhu, Fuvahmulah and Addu atolls) in Maldives. This group numbers approximately 60,000 and constitute about 20% of the total population of all Maldivians. According to researchers, this group of Maldivians have the closest proximity to the original Maldivian people in terms of linguistics as well as ethnicity.: Each of the 3 atolls of this region speak their own distinctive forms of the Maldivian language (Huvadhu bas, Mulaku bas, Addu bas), which are much different from the rest and as researchers suggest having a closer affinity to what may have been the original.
The people of Minicoy (Malikun) – Mahls, numbering about 10,000. The island of Minicoy lies in the northern end of the atoll chain inhabited by...