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  Introduction Back To Top

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 Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 0.003 cu km/yr (98%/2%/0%)
per capita: 9 cu m/yr (1987)

Total renewable water resources:
0.03 cu km (1999)

Land boundaries:
0 km

Environment - international agreements:
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

tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)

Map references:

Geographic coordinates:
3 15 N, 73 00 E

Natural resources:

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Wilingili island in the Addu Atoll 2.4 m

flat, with white sandy beaches

Geography - note:
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

total: 300 sq km
land: 300 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India

644 km

Area - comparative:
about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC

Irrigated land:

Environment - current issues:
depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching

Maritime claims:
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
low level of islands makes them sensitive to sea level rise

Land use:
arable land: 13.33%
permanent crops: 30%
other: 56.67% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.97 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.59 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.01 male(s)/female
total population: 1.41 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.1% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
fewer than 100 (2001 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.72 years
male: 71.55 years
female: 76.01 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.3%
male: 96.2%
female: 96.4% (2000 census)

Net migration rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs

Median age:
total: 25.1 years
male: 26 years
female: 23.7 years (2008 est.)

385,925 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
8% of GDP (2006)

Population growth rate:
5.566% (2008 est.)

Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials

Death rate:
3.66 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 30.63 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 33.15 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 27.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 12 years (2006)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 23.5% (male 46,174/female 44,396)
15-64 years: 72.7% (male 172,279/female 108,152)
65 years and over: 3.9% (male 7,510/female 7,414) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
14.84 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Sunni Muslim

noun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US does not have an embassy in Maldives; the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka is accredited to Maldives and makes periodic visits

National holiday:
Independence Day, 26 July (1965)

21 years of age; universal

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:
other: various unregistered political parties

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Mohamed Hussain MANIKU
chancery: 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400E, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 599-6194
FAX: [1] (212) 599-6195

International organization participation:

Legislative branch:
unicameral People's Council or Majlis (50 seats; 42 members elected by popular vote, 8 appointed by the president; to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 22 January 2005 (next to be held in early 2009)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 50

Legal system:
based on Islamic law with admixtures of English common law primarily in commercial matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Flag description:
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

26 July 1965 (from UK)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Republic of Maldives
conventional short form: Maldives
local long form: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
local short form: Dhivehi Raajje

Political parties and leaders:
Adhaalath (Justice) Party or AP [Abdul Majeed Abdul BARI]; 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]; note - political parties were allowed to register in June 2005

name: Male
geographic coordinates: 4 10 N, 73 30 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

new constitution ratified 7 August 2008

Executive branch:
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%

Administrative divisions:
19 atolls (atholhu, singular and plural) and the 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

Judicial branch:
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

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
Thailand 28.3%, UK 17.6%, France 8.8%, Sri Lanka 8.6%, Algeria 8.2%, Japan 6.4%, Italy 4.1% (2007)

Electricity - consumption:
203.7 million kWh (2006 est.)

Central bank discount rate:
12.5% (31 December 2007)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Current account balance:
-$472 million (2007)

Debt - external:
$482 million (2006 est.)

Unemployment rate:
NEGL% (2003 est.)

Oil - exports:
1,499 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$4,500 (2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$1.08 billion (31 December 2007)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$1.746 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$1.296 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
rufiyaa (MVR) per US dollar - NA (2007), 12.8 (2006), 12.8 (2005), 12.8 (2004), 12.8 (2003)

GDP - real growth rate:
6.5% (2008 est.)

Stock of money:
$344.1 million (31 December 2007)

Labor force:
101,300 (2004)

Imports - partners:
Canada 35.2%, Singapore 15%, UAE 10.2%, India 7.4%, Malaysia 7.1% (2007)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
11% (June 2008 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 16%
industry: 7%
services: 77% (2006 est.)

Oil - imports:
5,362 bbl/day (2005)

$167 million f.o.b. (2006)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
rufiyaa (MVR)

Economy - overview:
Tourism, Maldives' largest industry, accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives' 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 3.6% in 2005. A rebound in tourism, post-tsunami reconstruction, and development of new resorts helped the economy recover quickly. The trade deficit has expanded sharply as a result of high oil prices and imports of construction material. Diversifying beyond tourism and fishing 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. Government spending on subsidies and civil servant salaries have created a large budget deficit and doubled inflation over the last year to 11% in June 2008.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
petroleum products, ships, foodstuffs, clothing, intermediate and capital goods

tourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, garments, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
21% (2004)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
13% (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money:
$434.9 million (31 December 2007)

Electricity - production:
230 million kWh (2007 est.)

$930 million f.o.b. (2006)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 22%
industry: 18%
services: 60% (1995)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Oil - consumption:
5,490 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:

Economic aid - recipient:
$66.83 million (2005)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $508 million (including foreign grants)
expenditures: $671 million (2006 est.)

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
33,000 (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
33,200 (2007)

10,000 (1999)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (1998)

35,000 (1999)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
317,800 (2007)

Television broadcast stations:
1 (2006)

Telephone system:
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 approaching 90 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) (2007)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)

Internet hosts:
1,600 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

Ports and terminals:

Merchant marine:
total: 29
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)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2007)

total: 88 km
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)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2007)

5 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 89,505
females age 16-49: 85,745 (2008 est.)

Military - note:
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)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 72,150
females age 16-49: 69,058 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF): Quick Reaction Force, Security Protection Group, Coast Guard (2007)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 4,749
female: 4,084 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
5.5% of GDP (2005 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
IDPs: 1,000-10,000 (December 2004 tsunami victims) (2007)

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