International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship
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International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship

Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson

The comprehensive and thoroughly accessible International Handbook of Research on Indigenous Entrepreneurship aims to develop a multidisciplinary theory explaining entrepreneurship as a function of cultural perceptions of opportunity. The Handbook presents a multitude of fascinating, superbly illustrated studies on the facets of entrepreneurship amongst indigenous peoples.
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Chapter 15: The Dhivehis of the Maldives

Teresa E. Dana


Teresa E. Dana Introduction The Dhivehis are the indigenous people of the Maldives, a ‘most unusual group of happy islands’ (Villiers, 1957, p. 829). The Republic of Maldives is a grouping of 1192 coral islands, the total landmass of which is a mere 298 square kilometres. A shallow lagoon, enclosed by a coral reef, surrounds each of the islands. Most of them have poor, sandy soil, which limits agricultural production. None of the islands rises beyond three metres above sea level. Situated in the Indian Ocean and scattered on both sides of the Equator, this archipelago is divided into 26 ring-shaped clusters. Each cluster of islands is known as an ‘atoll’, a word derived from atholhu in Dhivehi, which is the language of the Maldives. Dhivehi belongs to the Indo-Iranian group, with strong Arabic influence. The language is unique to this country. The Dhivehis are of mixed Arab, Aryan, Dravidian, Negroid and Sinhalese ancestry. The society is homogeneous, with one language (Figure 15.1), one culture and one religion. Islam is the national religion and all citizens are Sunni Muslims. The weekend here lasts from Friday to Saturday. Except on designated tourist islands, alcoholic beverages and pork are illegal, as are dogs. Much entrepreneurship literature associates entrepreneurs with an affinity for, or at least a tolerance of, calculated risk. Indeed, small business usually involves some degree of risk. Also financing is often a central issue for entrepreneurs, as reflected in the literature. However, the Dhivehis do not associate...

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