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MALDIVES, The, also the Maldive Islands. A country of 19 atoll clusters in South Asia, and member of the Commonwealth. Languages: Divehi (official), also called Maldivian, related to Sinhala and with a script derived from ARABIC, and English, widely used in government and tourism. The Maldive sultanate was a British protectorate. See SOUTH ASIAN ENGLISH.