Since the 12th century AD, there have also been influences from Arabia in the language and culture of the Maldives due to its conversion to Islam and its location as a crossroads in the central Indian Ocean. This was due to the long history of trade between the Far East and the Middle East. Somali travellers discovered the island in the 13th century after gold, even before the Portuguese. Their short stay later ended in a bloody conflict, which the Somalis called “Dagaal Diig Badaaney” in 1424.
However, unlike the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka and most Arabs, Africans and Europeans, whose influence is evident in loan words, material culture and the diversity of the Maldivian phenotype, Maldivians do not have the strongly entrenched patriarchal codes of honour, purity, corporate marriage and sedentary private property that are typical of places where agriculture is the main form of subsistence and social relations have historically been built around the taking of tribute.
This is reflected in the fact that the Maldives has had the highest national divorce rate in the world for many decades. This is believed to be due to a combination of liberal Islamic divorce rules and the relatively loose marital ties considered common among non-sedentary and semi-sedentary peoples without a history of fully developed agrarian property and kinship relations.