Coat of Arms
President Abdulla Yameen
»Unitary presidential constitutional republic
»298 km2 (206th)
» Per capita -$8,731 (89th)
» Per capita -$5,973
»Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR)
Maldives, officially the Republic of Maldives, is an island nation in the Indian Ocean–Arabian Sea area, consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls, oriented north-south, that lie between Minicoy Island (the southernmost part of Lakshadweep, India) and the Chagos Archipelago. The chains stand in the Laccadive Sea, and the capital, Malé, is about 600 kilometres (370 mi) south-west of India and 750 kilometres (470 mi) south-west of Sri Lanka.
The islands gained independence from the British Empire in 1965, and in 1968 became a republic ruled by a president and an authoritarian government.
The Maldives archipelago is located atop the Chagos-Maldives-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean. Maldives also form a terrestrial ecoregion together with the Chagos and the Lakshadweep.
The Maldives atolls encompass a territory spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi), making the country one of the world’s most geographically dispersed. Its population of 328,536 (2012) inhabits 192 of its 1,192 islands.
In 2006, Maldives’ capital and largest city Malé, located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll, had a population of 103,693.
Malé is one of the Maldives’ administrative divisions and, traditionally, it was the “King’s Island” where the ancient Maldives royal dynasties were enthroned.
The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. With an average ground level elevation of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, it is the planet’s lowest country.
It is also the country with the lowest natural highest point in the world, at 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in). Future inundation of the Maldives due to rising sea levels is of great concern to its people, motivating the government to have pledged to become a carbon-neutral country by 2019.
In ancient times, the Maldives were renowned for cowry shells, coir rope, dried tuna fish (Maldive Fish), ambergris (Faravahar), and coco de mer (Tavakkaashi).
Local and foreign trading ships used to load these products in Sri Lanka and transport them to other harbours in the Indian Ocean.
Historically Maldives provided enormous quantities of cowry shells, an international currency of the early ages. From the 2nd century AD the islands were known as the ‘Money Isles’ by the Arabs.
Monetary moneta were used for centuries as a currency in Africa, and huge amounts of Maldivian cowries were introduced into Africa by western nations during the period of slave trade. The cowry is now the symbol of the Maldives Monetary Authority.
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 liberalised regulations to allow more foreign investment. Real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year for more than a decade. Today, the Maldives’ largest industry is tourism, accounting for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives’ foreign exchange receipts. Fishing is the second leading sector.
The Maldivian economy is to a large degree based on tourism. In late December 2004, the major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $400 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 and showed an 18% increase on 2006. 2013 estimates show Maldivians enjoy the highest GDP (PPP) per capita $11,900 (2013 est) among south Asian countries.
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 labour.
Tourism gave a major boost to the country’s fledgling traditional cottage industries such as mat weaving, lacquer work, handicraft, and coir rope making.
New industries that have since emerged include printing, production of PVC pipes, brick making, marine engine repairs, bottling of aerated water, and garment production.
Top 5 Products imported by Maldives
- Refined Petroleum (28%),
- Petroleum Gas (3.1%),
- Computers (2.2%),
- Concentrated Milk (1.5%), and Planes,
- Helicopters, and/or Spacecraft (1.2%)
Top 5 Import origins of Maldives
The Maldives remained largely unknown to tourists until the early 1970s. Only 185 islands are home to its 300,000 inhabitants.
The other islands are used entirely for economic purposes, of which tourism and agriculture are the most dominant. Tourism accounts for 28% of the 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. The development of tourism fostered the overall growth of the country’s economy. It created direct and indirect employment and income generation opportunities in other related industries.
The first tourist resorts were opened in 1972 with Bandos island resort and Kurumba Village (the current name is Kurumba Maldives), which transformed the Maldives economy.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the emergence of tourism in 1972 transformed the economy, moving rapidly from dependence on fisheries to tourism. In just three and a half decades, the industry became the main source of income.
Tourism was also the country’s biggest foreign currency earner and the single largest contributor to the GDP. As of 2008, 89 resorts in the Maldives offered over 17,000 beds and hosted over 600,000 tourists annually.
The number of resorts increased from 2 to 92 between 1972 and 2007. As of 2007, over 8,380,000 tourists had visited Maldives.
Visitors to Maldives do not need to apply for a visa pre-arrival, regardless of their country of origin, provided they have a valid passport, proof of onward travel, and the money to be self-sufficient while in the country.
- Maldives is one of the lowest countries in the world and its geography can be considered a sight in itself.
- Scuba diving is a popular activity and underwater there is a whole world to discover – coral reefs, several colorful fish and other animal species living in the ocean.
- In the capital Malé, there are a couple of interesting museums and mosques.