Maldives

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A sultanate since the 12th century, the Maldives became a British protectorate in 1887. 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 political demonstrations in the capital Male in August 2003, the president and his government pledged to embark upon a process of liberalization and 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. President NASHEED faced a number of challenges including strengthening democracy and combating poverty and drug abuse. In early February 2012, after several weeks of street protests following his sacking of a top judge, NASHEED resigned the presidency and handed over power to Vice President Mohammed WAHEED Hassan Maniku. In mid-2012, a Commission of National Inquiry was set by the government to probe events leading up to NASHEED's resignation. Though the commission found no evidence of a coup, the report recommended the need to strengthen the country's democratic institutions to avert similar events in the future, and to further investigate alleged police misconduct during the crisis. Maldivian officials have played a prominent role in international climate change discussions (due to the islands' low elevation and the threat from sea-level rise) on the UN Human Rights Council and in other international forums, as well as in encouraging regional cooperation, especially between India and Pakistan.

Geography

Location

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

Geographic coordinates

3.15° N, 73.00° E

Area 210/257

total: 298 sq km

land: 298 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative

about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km

Coastline

644 km

Maritime claims

measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Climate

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

Terrain

flat, with white sandy beaches

Elevation

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: unnamed location on Viligili in the Addu Atholhu 2.4 m

Natural resources

fish

Land use

agricultural land: 23.3%

arable land 10%; permanent crops 10%; permanent pasture 3.3%

forest: 3%

other: 73.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

0.03 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 0.01 cu km/yr (95%/5%/0%)

per capita: 18.44 cu m/yr (2008)

Natural hazards

tsunamis; low elevation of islands makes them sensitive to sea level rise

Environment - current issues

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

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

Geography - note

smallest Asian country; archipelago of 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts); strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Maldivian(s)

adjective: Maldivian

Ethnic groups

South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs

Languages

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

Religions

Sunni Muslim (official)

Population 177/238

393,253 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 21.05% (male 42,230/female 40,555)

15-24 years: 22.41% (male 51,141/female 36,970)

25-54 years: 47.08% (male 107,436/female 77,713)

55-64 years: 5.14% (male 10,243/female 9,968)

65 years and over: 4.32% (male 7,994/female 9,003) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 47.4%

youth dependency ratio: 40.5%

elderly dependency ratio: 6.9%

potential support ratio: 14.4% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 27.4 years

male: 27.5 years

female: 27.3 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 205/233

-0.08% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 125/224

15.75 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 209/225

3.89 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 216/222

-12.68 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 45.5% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 4.49% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MALE (capital) 156,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.38 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.38 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female

total population: 1.26 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

23.9

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2009 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 100/184

68 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 73/224

total: 23.7 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 26.11 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 21.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 101/224

total population: 75.37 years

male: 73.06 years

female: 77.8 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 166/224

1.74 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

34.7% (2009)

Health expenditures 50/191

10.8% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

1.42 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

4.3 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source

improved:

urban: 99.5% of population

rural: 97.9% of population

total: 98.6% of population

unimproved:

urban: 0.5% of population

rural: 2.1% of population

total: 1.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

improved:

urban: 97.5% of population

rural: 98.3% of population

total: 97.9% of population

unimproved:

urban: 2.5% of population

rural: 1.7% of population

total: 2.1% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.01% (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

fewer than 100 (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

fewer than 100 (2013 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 126/191

7% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 36/138

17.8% (2009)

Education expenditures 26/173

6.2% of GDP (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 48/134

total: 25.4%

male: 29.1%

female: 21.4% (2010 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Maldives

conventional short form: Maldives

local long form: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa

local short form: Dhivehi Raajje

etymology: archipelago apparently named after the main island (and capital) of Male; the word "Maldives" means "the islands (dives) of Male"; another possibility is that the name derives from the Sanskrit word "maladvipa" meaning "garland of islands"; Dhivehi Raajje in Maldivian means "kingdom of the Dhivehi people"

Government type

republic

Capital

name: Male

geographic coordinates: 4.10° N, 73.30° E

time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions

7 provinces and 1 municipality*; Dhekunu (South), Maale*, Mathi Dhekunu (Upper South), Mathi Uthuru (Upper North), Medhu (Central), Medhu Dhekunu (South Central), Medhu Uthuru (North Central), Uthuru (North)

Independence

26 July 1965 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 26 July (1965)

Constitution

many previous; latest ratified 7 August 2008; note - a proposed amendment to limit the age of presidential candidates was defeated in early 2015 (2015)

Legal system

Islamic religious legal system with English common law influences, primarily in commercial matters

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of the Maldives

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: unknown

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom (since 17 November 2013); Vice President Ahmed ADHEEB Abdul Ghafoor (since 22 July 2015); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom (since 17 November 2013); Vice President Ahmed ADHEEB Abdul Ghafoor (since 22 July 2015)

cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); the election held on 7 September 2013 was annulled by the Supreme Court; rerun of first round held on 9 November 2013 and a runoff held on 16 November (next election to be held in 2018)

election results: first round (9 November 2013); percent of vote - Mohamed NASHEED (MDP) 46.9%, Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom (PPM) 29.7%, Qasim IBRAHIM (JP) 23.3%; runoff (16 November 2013); percent of vote - Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom elected president 51.4%, Mohamed NASHEED 48.6%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament or People's Majlis (85 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 22 March 2014 (next to be held in 2019)

election results: percent of vote - MDP 40.8%, MDP 27.7%, JP 13.6%, MDA 4.0%, AP 2.7% other 0.3%, independent 10.9%; seats by party - PPM 33, MDP 26, JP 15, MDA 5, AP 1 , independent 5

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 6 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission - a separate 10-member body of selected high government officials and the public - and upon confirmation by voting members of the People's Majlis; judges serve until mandatory retirement at age 70

subordinate courts: High Court; Criminal, Civil, Family, Juvenile, and Drug Courts; Magistrate Courts (on each of the inhabited islands)

Political parties and leaders

Adhaalath (Justice) Party or AP [Sheikh Imran ABDULLA]

Maldives Development Alliance or MDA [Ahmed Shiyam Mohamed]

Maldavian Democratic Party or MDP [Ali WAHEED]

Progressive Party of Maldives or PPM [Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM]

Republican (Jumhooree) Party or JP [Qasim IBRAHIM]

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: various unregistered political parties

International organization participation

ADB, AOSIS, C, CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (NGOs), ICCt, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Flag description

red with a large green rectangle in the center bearing a vertical white crescent moon; the closed side of the crescent is on the hoist side of the flag; red recalls those who have sacrificed their lives in defense of their country, the green rectangle represents peace and prosperity, and the white crescent signifies Islam

National symbol(s)

coconut palm, yellowfin tuna; national colors: red, green, white

National anthem

name: "Gaumee Salaam" (National Salute)

lyrics/music: Mohamed Jameel DIDI/Wannakuwattawaduge DON AMARADEVA

note: lyrics adopted 1948, music adopted 1972; between 1948 and 1972, the lyrics were sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne"

Economy

Economy - overview

Tourism, Maldives' largest economic activity, accounts for nearly 30% of GDP and more than 60% of foreign exchange receipts. Fishing is the second leading sector, but the fish catch has dropped sharply in recent years. 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.

Lower than expected tourist arrivals and fish exports, combined with high government spending on social needs, subsidies, and civil servant salaries contributed to a balance of payments crisis, which was temporarily eased with a $79.3 million IMF Stand-By agreement. However, after the first two disbursements, the IMF withheld subsequent disbursements due to concerns over Maldives' growing budget deficit, and the government has been seeking other sources of budgetary support ever since. A new Goods and Services Tax (GST) on tourism introduced in January 2011, on general goods and services in October 2011, and a new Business Profit Tax introduced in July 2011 have provided a boost to revenue. In recent years, gross foreign exchange reserves have hovered around $300 million, sufficient to finance about two to three months of imports.

In July 2015, Maldives’ Parliament passed a constitutional amendment legalizing foreign ownership of land; foreign land-buyers must reclaim at least 70% of the desired land from the ocean and invest at least $1 billion in a construction project approved by Parliament. The political opposition claimed publicly that the law could enable China to build military infrastructure in Maldives.

Diversifying the economy beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finance, increasing employment opportunities, and combating corruption, cronyism, and a growing drug problem are near-term 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.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 175/230

$4.732 billion (2015 est.)

$4.554 billion (2014 est.)

$4.221 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$3.031 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 12/225

7.6% (2015 est.)

7.7% (2014 est.)

1.5% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 115/230

$13,600 (2015 est.)

$13,300 (2014 est.)

$12,500 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

Gross national saving 126/179

13.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

15.6% of GDP (2014 est.)

12.6% of GDP (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 4%

industry: 23%

services: 73% (2012 est.)

Agriculture - products

coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish

Industries

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

Industrial production growth rate 2/202

14% (2012 est.)

Labor force 177/233

159,700 (2012)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 15%

industry: 15%

services: 70% (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate 126/207

11% (2012 est.)

12% (2011 est.)

Population below poverty line

16% (2008 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.2%

highest 10%: 33.3% (FY09/10)

Distribution of family income - Gini index 78/144

37.4 (2004 est.)

Budget

revenues: $960 million

expenditures: $1.27 billion (2013 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 82/219

31.7% of GDP (2013 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 202/220

-10.2% of GDP (2013 est.)

Public debt 42/176

72.8% of GDP

66.7% of GDP

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 152/226

4% (2015 est.)

10.9% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 46/156

7% (31 December 2012)

6.96% (31 December 2011)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 81/184

10.5% (31 December 2012 est.)

10.2% (31 December 2011 est.)

Stock of narrow money 162/192

$623 million (31 December 2013 est.)

$547.1 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money 163/193

$1.538 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

$1.298 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 149/191

$1.559 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

$1.601 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares 113/121

$555 million (31 December 2011 est.)

Current account balance 83/197

-$232.4 million (2015 est.)

$310 million (2014 est.)

Exports 190/224

$166 million (2013 est.)

$161 million (2012 est.)

Exports - commodities

fish

Exports - partners

Thailand 18.8%, France 16%, US 10.9%, Japan 7.5%, Germany 7.2%, UK 6.1%, Italy 5.5%, Sri Lanka 4.7% (2014)

Imports 165/223

$1.728 billion (2013 est.)

$1.55 billion (2012 est.)

Imports - commodities

petroleum products, clothing, intermediate and capital goods

Imports - partners

Singapore 18%, UAE 18%, India 9%, Malaysia 8.3%, China 6.7%, Sri Lanka 5.7%, Thailand 5.5% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 155/170

$368.3 million (31 December 2013 est.)

$356 million (30 November 2012 est.)

Debt - external 169/206

$793.6 million (2013 est.)

$890.8 million (2012 est.)

Exchange rates

rufiyaa (MVR) per US dollar -

15.365 (2015)

15.365 (2014)

Energy

Electricity - production 180/220

287.2 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 185/219

267.1 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 173/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 179/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 181/214

77,000 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 21/214

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 147/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 189/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 204/212

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 171/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 165/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 102/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 171/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 113/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 161/212

6,900 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 205/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 147/213

6,941 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 107/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 175/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 151/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 104/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 174/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 165/212

1.123 million Mt (2012 est.)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines 183/219

total subscriptions: 21,500

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 164/217

total: 665,800

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 169 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: telephone services have improved; inter-atoll communication through microwave links; all inhabited islands and resorts are connected with telephone and fax service

domestic: each island now has at least 1 public telephone, and there are mobile-cellular networks with a rapidly expanding subscribership that has reached 135 per 100 persons

international: country code - 960; linked to international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); satellite earth station - 3 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2011)

Broadcast media

state-owned radio and TV monopoly until recently; state-owned TV operates 2 channels; 3 privately owned TV stations; state owns Voice of Maldives and operates both an entertainment and a music-based station; 5 privately owned radio stations (2012)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 6, shortwave 1 (2009)

Television broadcast stations

2 (2009)

Internet country code

.mv

Internet hosts 153/232

3,296 (2012)

Internet users 201/217

total: 18,600

percent of population: 4.7% (2014 est.)

Transportation

Airports 159/236

9 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 7

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)

Roadways 216/223

total: 88 km

paved roads: 88 km - 60 km in Male; 14 km on Addu Atolis; 14 km on Laamu

note: island roads are mainly compacted coral (2013)

Merchant marine 97/156

total: 18

by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 14, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 2

foreign-owned: 4 (Singapore 4)

registered in other countries: 4 (Panama 2, Tuvalu 1, unknown 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Male

Military and Security

Military branches

Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF): Marine Corps, Security Protection Group, Coast Guard (2010)

Military service age and obligation

18-28 years of age for voluntary service; no conscription; 10th grade or equivalent education required; must not be a member of a political party (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

none