Flag of Maldives

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The Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. Since 1978, President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM - currently in his sixth term in office - has dominated the islands' political scene. Following riots in the capital Male in August 2004, the president and his government have pledged to embark upon democratic reforms, including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago.


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

Geographic coordinates:

3 15 N, 73 00 E


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

Land boundaries:

0 km


644 km

Maritime claims:

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

Elevation extremes:

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

Natural resources:


Land use:

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

Natural hazards:

low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise

Environment - current issues:

depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching

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


359,008 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 43.4% (male 80,113/female 75,763)
15-64 years: 53.5% (male 98,040/female 94,029)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 5,477/female 5,586) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 17.9 years
male: 17.8 years
female: 18 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.78% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

34.81 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

7.06 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.98 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 54.89 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 54.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 55.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 64.41 years
male: 63.08 years
female: 65.8 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.9 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.1% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

less than 100 (2001 est.)


noun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian

Ethnic groups:

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: 97.2%
male: 97.1%
female: 97.3% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Maldives
conventional short form: Maldives
local long form: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
local short form: Dhivehi Raajje

Government type:




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


26 July 1965 (from UK)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 26 July (1965)


adopted 1 January 1998

Legal system:

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

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM (since 11 November 1978); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM (since 11 November 1978); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president nominated by the Majlis and then the nomination must be ratified by a national referendum (at least a 51% approval margin is required); president elected for a five-year term; election last held 17 October 2003 (next to be held NA 2008)
election results: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM reelected in referendum held 17 October 2003; percent of popular vote - Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM 90.3%

Legislative branch:

unicameral People's Council or Majlis (50 seats; 42 elected by popular vote, 8 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 22 January 2005 (next to be held NA 2010)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 50

Judicial branch:

High Court

Economy - overview:

Tourism, Maldives' largest industry, accounts for 20% 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 a second leading sector. 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. 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 18% of GDP. Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming on their low-lying country; 80% of the area is one meter or less above sea level. In late December 2004, a major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $300 million. Over the past decade, real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year. As a result of the tsunami, the GDP contracted by about 5.5% in 2005.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$1.25 billion (2002 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

-5.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$3,900 (2002 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 20%
industry: 18%
services: 62% (2000 est.)

Labor force:

88,000 (2000)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 22%
industry: 18%
services: 60% (1995)

Unemployment rate:

NEGL% (2003 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

5.6% (2005 est.)


revenues: $265 million (excluding foreign grants)
expenditures: $362 million; including capital expenditures of $80 million (2004 est.)

Agriculture - products:

coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish


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

Industrial production growth rate:

-0.9% (2004 est.)

Electricity - production:

135 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

125.6 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

4,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)


$123 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Exports - commodities:

fish, clothing

Exports - partners:

US 26.5%, Thailand 23.5%, Sri Lanka 12.3%, Japan 11.7%, UK 9.8%, Germany 4.9% (2004)


$567 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)

Imports - commodities:

petroleum products, ships, foodstuffs, textiles, clothing, intermediate and capital goods

Imports - partners:

Singapore 24.9%, Sri Lanka 10.6%, UAE 10.3%, India 10.2%, Malaysia 7.6%, Bahrain 5.4% (2004)

Debt - external:

$316 million (2004 est.)

Currency (code):

rufiyaa (MVR)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

31,500 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

113,200 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: minimal domestic and international facilities
domestic: interatoll communication through microwave links; all inhabited islands are connected with telephone and fax service
international: country code - 960; satellite earth station - 3 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (1998)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (2006)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

1,343 (2005)

Internet users:

19,000 (2005)


5 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2005)


total: NA
note: 10 km of coral roads in city of Male

Merchant marine:

total: 16 ships (1000 GRT or over) 66,804 GRT/84,615 DWT
by type: cargo 12, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 1
registered in other countries: 2 (Panama 2) (2005)

Ports and terminals:


Military branches:

National Security Service includes Security Branch (ground forces), Air Element, Coast Guard

Disputes - international:


Refugees and internally displaced persons:

IDPs: 11,000 (December 2004 tsunami victims) (2005)