Minicoy is locally known as “Maliku”, which is the name of the Island in the Maldive-Minicoy language.

So how did this transform into Minicoy? Many Minicoy islanders have long settled in the Nicobar Islands across in the Bay of Bengal. They had always regularly traveled back to Minicoy. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands had a reputation in the Maldives and Minicoy of being inhabited by cannibals, and so collectively the Andaman and Nicobar groups were called "Minikaa-raajje" by Maldive and Minicoy islanders. This meant "cannibal kingdom". The indigenous Andaman and Nicobar islanders probably practiced cannibalism until recent times.

A British official once asked a Minicoy islander ‘what the name of his island was’. The islander told the official that ‘he was from Maliku but usually lived in "Minikaa-raajje" (Nicobar)’. The good official thought Maliku and Minikaa were the same place and recorded the name of the island as "Minikaa". This later became Anglicized as ‘Minicoy’.

Maliku or Minicoy is an atoll in the Lakshadweep islands since 1956. Lakshadweep was earlier known as Laccadives (Laccadives archipelago). Laccadives would mean “one lakh islands”. Lakshadweep consists of only 36 islands; it never comes near to the figure of one lakh. The number is only figurative and denotes “numerous”. Laccadives was renamed as Lakshadweep in 1973.

Maliku had always attracted the tourists, many historians and academics. The irony is that Maliku, its people, culture and social structure had always remained a mystery to them, due to the diversity from other islands of Lakshadweep. Written history is only available in the form of thaavaru (raivaru), which would be difficult to fetch out for those outsiders, and even difficult to understand the exact meaning. The popular one is the oral tradition of Kohorathukamanaa and Kamboranin, the two Maldivian princesses and their companions who came to Maliku and replaced the Teevaru, the earlier inhabitants, and became ancestors of the present population.

There was a pre Indian era for Maliku (Minicoy), like the pre Islamic era that existed in Lakshadweep. It would also be fair to note that India never existed as such prior to the arrival of the British. They were only small kingdoms, and the Mughal emperors expanded it. The British East India Company was able to annex the vast empire of the Mughals under their rule through their business policies, which later came to be known as British India.

It is not very much clear about the exact period when Maliku (Minicoy) was under the rule of Maldivian kings. However one definitely finds references made until recently in Maldive official literature – “Malikaddu mi demedhu”, (in between Maliku and Addu) which was used to determine the boundary of the Maldivian kingdom. As Maliku was the northernmost atoll in the Maldives it was difficult to protect the island from the invasion of Ali Rajas of Malabar, and other foreign forces. Ali Rajas had a monopoly of trade on nearby Laccadive Islands, and it was natural that they wanted to extend it to Maldives, and in this effort Maliku was very often invaded by the Ali Rajas.

Finally, Maliku was detached from the Maldives in 1752 by the Ali Rajas, and there was no turn back. The then northern islands of the Lakshadweep, i.e. Amindivi group of islands were completely taken over by the British much earlier in1799, when they defeated Tipu Sultan of Seingapattam (As those islands were under the rule of Tipu Sultan from 1787). The Laccadive Islands (the southern group of islands) and Minicoy were annexed to the British Empire much later. Though the suzerainty of Maliku (Minicoy) was transferred to the British Indian Empire in 1875, the Arakkal House under the Bibi enjoyed the trade monopoly over these islands until 1905, when the Laccadive Islands and Minicoy was completely surrendered to the British Empire. The British left India in 1947, but the Union Jack fluttered over the Minicoy lighthouse till a special officer was send by the Queen, to lower it in 1956, and the island was annexed to the Indian Union.