Divehi in Sri Lanka

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge
* Data can be from various sources including official census, agencies, and local research. Data from these sources can sometimes differ even by orders of magnitude. Joshua Project attempts to present a conservative, balanced estimate.

Introduction / History

For centuries, there has been trade between the Divehi people of the Maldive Islands and nearby Sri Lanka. During that time, there have been people from each of the two countries settling in the other one.

Though Sri Lanka is primarily Hindu (Tamil) and Buddhist (Sinhalese), there is a sizable Muslim minority, including the Divehi people.

Where Are they Located?

Most Divehi people live in the stunningly beautiful Maldive Islands, but there is a sizable diaspora. Some live in Sri Lanka or India.

What Are Their Lives Like?

There is a fairly new youth center for Maldivians in Sri Lanka. It gives them access to games like foosball, billiards and ping pong. Youths will also be given an academic course on Islam, and taught life skills.

On the Maldive Islands, divorce is a plague on their families. Some men have had 10 wives, and family life is loosely structured. Children live with their mothers, and fathers sometimes support them. Marriages are not arranged, and they do not have much of a wedding ceremony. Most likely this situation also applies to Maldivians living in Sri Lanka.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Maldivian Divehi speakers are noted for being staunch, dogmatic Muslims. However, their loyalties are not to orthodox Islam, but to quirky forms of folk Islam. This means that they blend their Islam with various animistic beliefs. They have a tremendous fear of the "evil eye," curses caused by a fixed gaze, and evil spirits.

What Are Their Needs?

Believers can show these people, who almost all suffer the ill effects of divorce, what a Christian marriage can be like.

Prayer Points

Maldivians have an exceptionally high divorce rate that leaves their families weak and their people without true love. Pray for them to seek and find biblical answers to this problem.
Maldivians need to be liberated from the bondage to rituals that will not provide them with anything.
Pray for a disciple making movement among Divehi speakers in Sri Lanka and the Maldive Islands.

Scripture Prayers for the Divehi in Sri Lanka.



Profile Source:   Keith Carey  

People Name General Divehi
People Name in Country Divehi
Pronunciation dee-VAY-hee
Alternate Names Mahl; Maldivian; Malki; डिवेः, मालदीवियन
Population this Country 2,000
Population all Countries 3,500
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 17427
ROP3 Code 112829
ROP25 Code 305034
ROP25 Name Maldivian
Country Sri Lanka
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Total States on file 2
Largest States
Country Sri Lanka
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Total States 2
  Western 1,800
  Eastern 200
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent *
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
* From latest Sri Lanka census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Primary Language Maldivian (2,000 speakers)
Language Code div   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Maldivian (2,000 speakers)
Language Code div   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Maldivian
Photo Source (Representative photo)
Easa Shamih - Flickr  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project  
Profile Source Keith Carey 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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