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Do They Speak English in the Maldives?

Do They Speak English in the Maldives

Key Takeaways

Official LanguageDhivehi
Proficiency in EnglishWidely spoken, especially in tourism & business
Language in SchoolsEnglish is a compulsory subject
Reasons for English ProficiencyTourism, business, and global communication


The Maldives, an idyllic tropical paradise, is renowned for its breathtaking white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant marine life. However, if you’re planning a trip to the Maldives, one question might come to mind: Do the locals speak English? This article delves into the linguistic landscape of the Maldives, offering insights into the prominence of the English language in this island nation.

The Linguistic Roots: Dhivehi

First and foremost, the official language of the Maldives is Dhivehi. This language is unique to the Maldives and parts of India’s Lakshadweep islands. It has its script known as Thaana, which is written from right to left.

Characteristics of Dhivehi

  • Origin: Dhivehi belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages.
  • Influences: It has been influenced by several languages, including Arabic, English, and Sinhalese.
  • Script: Uses the Thaana script, which consists of 24 letters.

But while Dhivehi is the native language, the Maldives’ global connectivity and bustling tourism industry have paved the way for English to become a widely spoken language.

English Proficiency in the Maldives

While Dhivehi remains the heart of local communication, English has firmly rooted itself in the Maldivian linguistic landscape.

Areas Where English is Prominent:

  1. Tourism: As a top holiday destination, the Maldives sees a massive influx of international tourists. Thus, English, being a global lingua franca, is commonly spoken in resorts, hotels, and other tourist hotspots.
  2. Business: For trade, negotiations, and other business communications, English is often the preferred language.
  3. Education: In Maldivian schools, English is a compulsory subject. This ensures that from a young age, Maldivians become well-versed in the language.
SectorPercentage of English SpeakersRemarks
TourismHigh (85-95%)Almost all staff in the tourism industry have a good grasp of English.
BusinessModerate to High (70-85%)Especially true for international businesses and local companies with global dealings.
EducationNearly Universal among youthStudents learn English from primary school onwards.

Reasons for English Proficiency in the Maldives

The rise of English in the Maldives is not just a mere coincidence; there are clear reasons that have contributed to its widespread use.

1. Tourism Boom:

The Maldives is one of the world’s top luxury holiday destinations. To cater to the diverse crowd of international tourists, English becomes an essential communication tool.

2. Education System:

The Maldivian government recognizes the global significance of English. Hence, the language is incorporated as a core subject in schools, ensuring that every Maldivian student is exposed to English.

3. Global Connectivity:

Being a small nation, the Maldives often engages in international trade, diplomacy, and other global endeavors. English, in this context, serves as a bridge, connecting the Maldives to the wider world.

Tips for Tourists

If you’re traveling to the Maldives, here are a few language-related tips to enhance your experience:

  • Learn Basic Dhivehi Phrases: While not essential, knowing a few basic phrases like “Shukuriyaa” (Thank you) can enrich your interaction with locals.
  • English is Widely Accepted: Especially in tourist areas, you’ll find that most Maldivians you interact with will understand and speak English.
  • Resort Staff: Almost universally, staff at resorts, hotels, and guesthouses will be fluent in English, ensuring seamless communication during your stay.


In conclusion, while Dhivehi is the soul of Maldivian culture and communication, English has become an integral part of the country’s global interactions, especially in the realms of tourism, business, and education. Whether you’re planning a holiday, a business trip, or any other form of engagement with the Maldives, rest assured that language will seldom be a barrier.