The people of the islands speak a dialect of Malayalam. It is a folk belief that they are descendants of traders who where washed up on the islands during a particularly heavy storm.
The people of the islands are ethnically similar to the people of the Kerala coast of India and are of mixed Indian and Arab descent, except on the southernmost and largest island, Minicoy, where people closely resemble Maldivians, speak Mahl, a language closely related to Dhivehi (Maldivian) which could even be a dialect. 93% of the indigenous population is Muslim and were converted by the Arab traders. The locals call themselves the Div-i or the Amadivi (from the mother island).