Archaeological findings suggest that the Maldives were inhabited as early as 1500 BC. The islands were first settled by Buddhist seafarers from India and Sri Lanka in the 5th century BC. Kings, called Raduns, continued to rule the Maldives for many years and cultural and economic ties with Sri Lanka and India were maintained.
The Maldives has a strong strategic location as it lies on the major sea routes of the Indian Ocean, and as a result after the 16th century the Maldives came under various European influences including the Dutch, Portuguese, and the French. The Maldives eventually became a British protectorate in 1887 although local monarchs were allowed to keep a fair amount of influence. In 1965 the Maldives received full independence from Britain and in 1968 the monarchy was abolished and the Republic of the Maldives was established.