Reference > World Factbook, 2008
  The World Factbook.  2008.
Flag of Maldives                                Map of Maldives
Background: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 pledged to embark upon democratic reforms, including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Progress has been slow, however, and many promised reforms have been slow to come to fruition. Nonetheless, political parties were legalized in 2005. A constituent assembly - termed the "special majlis" - has pledged to complete the drafting of a new constitution by the end of 2007 and first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system are slated for November 2008. Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago.
Location:Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India
Geographic coordinates:3 15 N, 73 00 E
Map references:Asia
Area:total: 300 sq km
land: 300 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 extremes:lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Wilingili island in the Addu Atoll 2.4 m
Natural resources:fish
Land use:arable land: 13.33%
permanent crops: 30%
other: 56.67% (2005)
Irrigated land:NA
Total renewable water resources:0.03 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):total: 0.003 cu km/yr (98%/2%/0%)
per capita: 9 cu m/yr (1987)
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
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: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
Population:369,031 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 42.9% (male 81,383/female 76,984)
15-64 years: 54% (male 101,699/female 97,518)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 5,619/female 5,828) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 18.1 years
male: 18 years
female: 18.2 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:2.732% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:34.2 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:6.88 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.057 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.043 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.964 male(s)/female
total population: 1.046 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 53.25 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 52.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 54.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 64.76 years
male: 63.41 years
female: 66.19 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:4.78 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS—adult prevalence rate:0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS—people living with HIV/AIDS:less than 100 (2001 est.)
Nationality:noun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian
Ethnic groups:South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs
Religions:Sunni Muslim
Languages:Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.3%
male: 96.2%
female: 96.4% (2000 census)
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: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: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
Independence:26 July 1965 (from UK)
National holiday:Independence Day, 26 July (1965)
Constitution: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
Suffrage: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)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president nominated by the Majlis; 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 in 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 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 2010)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 50
Judicial branch:High Court
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
Political pressure groups and leaders:various unregistered political parties
International organization participation: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, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant)
chancery: 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400E, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 599-6194
FAX: [1] (212) 599-6195
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 there
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
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 one meter or less above sea level.
GDP (purchasing power parity):$2.839 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$1.024 billion (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:5.5% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$3,900 (2002 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 16%
industry: 7%
services: 77% (2006 est.)
Labor force:101,300 (2004)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture: 22%
industry: 18%
services: 60% (1995)
Unemployment rate:NEGL% (2003 est.)
Population below poverty line:21% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):6% (2005 est.)
Budget:revenues: $508 million (including foreign grants)
expenditures: $671 million (2006 est.)
Agriculture—products:coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish
Industries:tourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, garments, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining
Industrial production growth rate:-0.9% (2004 est.)
Electricity—production:169 million kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:157.1 million kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:0 kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:0 kWh (2005)
Oil—production:0 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil—consumption:5,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil—exports:1,517 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—imports:6,390 bbl/day (2004)
Oil—proved reserves:0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas—production:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—consumption:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—imports:0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas—proved reserves:0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Exports:$167 million f.o.b. (2006)
Exports—partners:Thailand 33.1%, UK 14.3%, Sri Lanka 11.9%, Japan 10.3%, France 6.9%, Algeria 6.1% (2006)
Imports:$930 million f.o.b. (2006)
Imports—commodities:petroleum products, ships, foodstuffs, clothing, intermediate and capital goods
Imports—partners:Singapore 23.2%, UAE 15.8%, India 11.1%, Malaysia 7.9%, Thailand 6.9%, Sri Lanka 5.6% (2006)
Debt—external:$482 million (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:$NA
Economic aid—recipient:$66.83 million (2005)
Currency (code):rufiyaa (MVR)
Exchange rates:rufiyaa per US dollar - NA (2007), 12.8 (2006), 12.8 (2005), 12.8 (2004), 12.8 (2003)
Fiscal year:calendar year
Telephones—main lines in use:32,500 (2006)
Telephones—mobile cellular:262,600 (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 rapidly expanding subscribership
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)
Radio broadcast stations:AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:1 (2006)
Internet country
Internet hosts:1,082 (2007)
Internet users:20,100 (2005)
Airports:5 (2007)
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)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2007)
Roadways: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)
Merchant marine:total: 22 ships (1000 GRT or over) 85,935 GRT/114,054 DWT
by type: cargo 17, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 2
foreign-owned: 1 (Greece 1)
registered in other countries: 2 (Panama 1, Tuvalu 1) (2007)
Ports and terminals:Male
Military branches:Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF): Quick Reaction Force, Security Protection Group, Coast Guard (2007)
Military service age and obligation:18 years of age (est.) (2004)
Manpower available for military service:males age 18-49: 71,774
females age 18-49: 69,229 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 18-49: 56,687
females age 18-49: 54,454 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:5.5% (2005 est.)
Military—note:Maldives has no regular armed forces; the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) includes ground forces, the Coast Guard, and a small, undermanned air element; with its small size and with little servable equipment, the MNDF 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 (2007)
Transnational Issues
Refugees and internally displaced persons:IDPs: 10,000 (December 2004 tsunami victims) (2006)


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