Facts about Maldives
|Population||385,925 (July 2008 est.)|
|Time zone||UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)|
Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India
General info about 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.
Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials
South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs
HIV/AIDS prevalence rate
0.1% (2001 est.)
tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)
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.
depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching
Cities in Maldivesdhidhdhoo eydhafushi felidhoo funadhoo hithadhoo kudahuvadhoo kulhudhuffushi magoodhoo mahibadhoo male manadhoo muli naifaru nolhivaranfaru thinadhoo ugoofaaru viligili