Spanning in the Arabia Sea of the Indian Ocean, in the southwest of Sri Lanka and India, approximately 700 kilometers from the mainland of Asia, is the archipelago of Maldives. The Maldivan Archipelago is nestled on the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, which is a submarine mountain range. Its average ground level elevation is at 1.5 meters above sea level, making it the lowest-lying country in the world.
The archipelago was dubbed as the “Money Isles” by the Arabs in the 2nd century AD because it supplied a huge quantity of cowry shells which were used as the international currency in the early years. Hence, the cowry shell has become the symbol of the modern-day Maldives Monetary Authority which controls the issuance of the Maldivian rufiyaa.
Before the Maldives Monetary Authority was established in 1981, the government of Maldives issued banknotes in 1947. These notes were created by Sayyid Saeed bearing calligraphy designs of Tabah Ali Fulu.
In 1983, the MMA released notes featuring cowrie shells, a bunch of coconuts, and dhivehi odi in full sail. The 1990 issues have similar designs except on the watermark area that comes with pale colors. The designs were also retained in the 1995 - 2013 issues but the banknotes carry a novel serial numbering.
On November 1, 2015, a new family of notes called “Randhihafafeh” printed on De La Rue’s Safeguard polymer substrate was introduced. This new set of notes bears the design by a Maldivian artist Abdullah Nashaath and carries embossed symbols on the upper left of its obverse to help the visually-impaired distinguish between denominations.