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The importance of the Arabs as traders in the Indian Ocean by the 12th century may partly explain why the last Buddhist king of Maldives Dhovemi converted to Islam in the year 1153 (or 1193), adopting the Muslim title of Sultan Muhammad al Adil, and initiating a series of six Islamic dynasties that lasted until 1932 when the sultanate became elective.
The formal title of the Sultan up to 1965 was, Sultan of Land and Sea, Lord of the twelve-thousand islands and Sultan of the Maldives which came with the style Highness.
Malé is the capital and most populated city, traditionally called the "King's Island" for its central location.
The Maldives archipelago is located atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean, which also forms a terrestrial ecoregion, together with the Chagos and the Lakshadweep.
Malabari seafaring culture led to the settlement of the Islands by Malayali seafarers.
Following the Islamic concept that before Islam there was the time of Jahiliya (ignorance), in the history books used by Maldivians the introduction of Islam at the end of the 12th century is considered the cornerstone of the country's history.
Compared to the other areas of South Asia, the conversion of the Maldives to Islam happened relatively late.
Arab Traders had converted populations in the Malabar Coast since the 7th century, and Muhammad Bin Qāsim had converted large swathes of Sindh to Islam at about the same time.
The Maldives remained a Buddhist kingdom for another five hundred years after the conversion of Malabar Coast and Sindh – perhaps as the south-westernmost Buddhist country.