South Asia :: Maldives
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Maldives
Location of Maldives
 
Map of Maldives
Introduction ::Maldives
The Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM dominated the islands' political scene for 30 years, elected to six successive terms by single-party referendums. Following riots in the capital Male in August 2004, the president and his government pledged to embark upon democratic reforms including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Progress was sluggish, however, and many promised reforms were slow to be realized. Nonetheless, political parties were legalized in 2005. In June 2008, a constituent assembly - termed the "Special Majlis" - finalized a new constitution, which was ratified by the president in August. The first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system were held in October 2008. GAYOOM was defeated in a runoff poll by Mohamed NASHEED, a political activist who had been jailed several years earlier by the former regime. Challenges facing the new president include strengthening democracy and combating poverty and drug abuse.
Geography ::Maldives
Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India
3 15 N, 73 00 E
total: 298 sq km
country comparison to the world: 209
land: 298 sq km
water: 0 sq km
about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC
0 km
644 km
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)
flat, with white sandy beaches
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Wilingili island in the Addu Atoll 2.4 m
fish
arable land: 13.33%
permanent crops: 30%
other: 56.67% (2005)
NA
0.03 cu km (1999)
total: 0.003 cu km/yr (98%/2%/0%)
per capita: 9 cu m/yr (1987)
tsunamis; low elevation of islands makes them sensitive to sea level rise
depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts); archipelago with strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean
People ::Maldives
396,334 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 174
0-14 years: 22.3% (male 45,038/female 43,291)
15-64 years: 73.8% (male 180,874/female 111,703)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 7,711/female 7,717) (2009 est.)
total: 25.7 years
male: 26.5 years
female: 24.3 years (2009 est.)
-0.168% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 217
14.55 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 145
3.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 212
-12.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
urban population: 38% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 5.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.62 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female
total population: 1.44 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 29.53 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 77
male: 32.04 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 26.89 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 73.97 years
country comparison to the world: 94
male: 71.78 years
female: 76.28 years (2009 est.)
1.9 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
0.1% (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 147
fewer than 100 (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 163
NA
noun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian
South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs
Sunni Muslim
Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.3%
male: 96.2%
female: 96.4% (2000 census)
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2006)
8% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 15
Government ::Maldives
conventional long form: Republic of Maldives
conventional short form: Maldives
local long form: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
local short form: Dhivehi Raajje
republic
name: Male
geographic coordinates: 4 10 N, 73 30 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
19 atolls (atholhu, singular and plural) and 1 capital city*; Alifu, Baa, Dhaalu, Faafu, Gaafu Alifu, Gaafu Dhaalu, Gnaviyani, Haa Alifu, Haa Dhaalu, Kaafu, Laamu, Lhaviyani, Maale* (Male), Meemu, Noonu, Raa, Seenu, Shaviyani, Thaa, Vaavu
26 July 1965 (from the UK)
Independence Day, 26 July (1965)
new constitution ratified 7 August 2008
based on Islamic law with admixtures of English common law primarily in commercial matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
21 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Mohamed "Anni" NASHEED (since 11 November 2008); Vice President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 11 November 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Mohamed "Anni" NASHEED (since 11 November 2008); Vice President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 11 November 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: under the new constitution, the president is elected by direct vote; president elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 8 and 28 October 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: Mohamed NASHEED elected president; percent of vote - NASHEED 54.25%, Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM 45.75%
unicameral People's Council or People's Majlis (77 seats; members elected by direct vote to serve five-year terms); note - the Majlis in February 2009 passed legislation that incresed the number of seats to 77 from 50
elections: last held 9 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: percent of vote - DRP 36.8%, MDP 32.9 %, PA 9.2%, DQP 2.6% AP 1.3%, independents 17.1%; seats by party - DRP 28, MDP 25, PA 7, DQP 2, AP 1, independents 13; note - one seat unfilled
Supreme Court; Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president with approval of voting members of the People's Council; High Court; Trial Courts; all lower court judges are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission
Adhaalath (Justice) Party or AP [Abdul Majeed Abdul BARI]; Dhivehi Quamee Party or DQP [Hassan SAEED]; Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (Maldivian People's Party) or DRP [Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM]; Islamic Democratic Party or IDP [Omar NASEER]; Maldivian Democratic Party or MDP [Mohamed NASHEED]; People's Alliance or PA [Abdullah YAMEEN]; Republican (Jumhooree) Party [Gasim IBRAHIM]; Social Liberal Party or SLP [Ibrahim ISMAIL]
other: various unregistered political parties
ADB, C, CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge D'Affaires Abdul Ghafoor MOHAMED
chancery: 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400E, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 599-6195
FAX: [1] (212) 661-6405
the US does not have an embassy in Maldives; the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ambassador Robert O. BLAKE, Jr., is accredited to Maldives and makes periodic visits
red with a large green rectangle in the center bearing a vertical white crescent; the closed side of the crescent is on the hoist side of the flag
Economy ::Maldives
Tourism, Maldives' largest industry, accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second leading sector. Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play a lesser role in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labor. Most staple foods must be imported. Industry, which consists mainly of garment production, boat building, and handicrafts, accounts for about 7% of GDP. The Maldivian Government began an economic reform program in 1989 initially by lifting import quotas and opening some exports to the private sector. Subsequently, it has liberalized regulations to allow more foreign investment. Real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year for more than a decade. In late December 2004, a major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $300 million. As a result of the tsunami, the GDP contracted by about 4.6% in 2005. A rebound in tourism, post-tsunami reconstruction, and development of new resorts helped the economy recover quickly, with GDP growth registering 18% in 2006. Growth slowed in 2007-08, but remained above 5% per year. The trade deficit expanded sharply as a result of high oil prices and imports of construction material. Government spending on social needs, subsidies, and civil servant salaries have created a large budget deficit and inflation has picked up sharply, reaching nearly 13% in October 2008 due to high oil and food prices. Diversifying beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finance, and increasing employment are the major challenges facing the government. Over the longer term Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming on their low-lying country; 80% of the area is 1 meter or less above sea level.
$1.716 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186
$1.624 billion (2007 est.)
$1.515 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$1.259 billion (2008 est.)
5.7% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
7.2% (2007 est.)
18% (2006 est.)
$4,400 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
$4,500 (2007 est.)
$4,400 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 7%
industry: 17%
services: 76% (2006 est.)
136,100 (2007)
country comparison to the world: 172
agriculture: 22%
industry: 18%
services: 60% (1995)
14.4% (2006 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
21% (2004)
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
revenues: $762 million (including foreign grants)
expenditures: $884 million (2008 est.)
12.8% (October 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
5% (2007 est.)
13% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 22
12.5% (31 December 2007)
13% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 60
13% (31 December 2007)
$475.2 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 142
$344.1 million (31 December 2007)
$487.8 million (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 141
$434.9 million (31 December 2007)
$1.548 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 130
$1.08 billion (31 December 2007)
$NA
coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish
tourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, garments, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining
-0.9% (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 141
205 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
190.7 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178
0 kWh (2008 est.)
0 kWh (2008 est.)
0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
6,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 180
5,406 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 155
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 150
0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 147
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 90
0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 157
$-638 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 107
$-472 million (2007 est.)
$113 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 191
$167 million (2006 est.)
fish
Thailand 32.2%, UK 12.9%, France 11.4%, Italy 8.5%, Algeria 8.4%, Sri Lanka 8% (2008)
$1.276 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
$930 million (2006 est.)
petroleum products, ships, foodstuffs, clothing, intermediate and capital goods
Singapore 26.4%, UAE 16.4%, India 10.3%, Malaysia 10%, Thailand 4.7%, Sri Lanka 4.5% (2008)
$477 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 166
$482 million (2006 est.)
rufiyaa (MVR) per US dollar - 12.8 (2008), 12.8 (2007), 12.8 (2006), 12.8 (2005), 12.8 (2004)
Communications ::Maldives
50,396 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 162
450,500 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 158
general assessment: telephone services have improved; each island now has at least 1 public telephone, and there are mobile cellular networks with a rapidly expanding subscribership that exceeds 100 per 100 persons
domestic: interatoll communication through microwave links; all inhabited islands and resorts are connected with telephone and fax service
international: country code - 960; linked to international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); satellite earth station - 3 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2009)
AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (1998)
1 (2006)
.mv
1,732 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 151
71,700 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 164
Transportation ::Maldives
5 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 180
total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2009)
total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2009)
total: 88 km
country comparison to the world: 213
paved roads: 88 km - 60 km in Male; 14 km on Addu Atolis; 14 km on Laamu
note: village roads are mainly compacted coral (2006)
total: 29
country comparison to the world: 86
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 23, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 2
foreign-owned: 1 (Greece 1)
registered in other countries: 2 (Panama 1, Tuvalu 1) (2008)
Male
Military ::Maldives
Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF): Rapid Reaction Force, Security Protection Group, Coast Guard (2009)
18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
males age 16-49: 89,505
females age 16-49: 85,745 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 138,746
females age 16-49: 82,247 (2009 est.)
male: 4,576
female: 3,942 (2009 est.)
5.5% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 15
the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), with its small size and with little serviceable equipment, is inadequate to prevent external aggression and is primarily tasked to reinforce the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and ensure security in the exclusive economic zone (2008)
Transnational Issues ::Maldives
none
IDPs: 1,000-10,000 (December 2004 tsunami victims) (2007)