[Country map of Maldives]



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

Map references: Asia

total area: 300 sq km
land area: 300 sq km
comparative area: slightly more than 1.5 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 644 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 35-310 nm as defined by geographic coordinates; segment of zone coincides with maritime boundary with India
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: none

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

Terrain: flat with elevations only as high as 2.5 meters

Natural resources: fish

Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 3%
forest and woodland: 3%
other: 84%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies
natural hazards: low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection; signed, but not ratified - Law of the Sea

Note: 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls; archipelago of strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean


Population: 261,310 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 47% (female 60,038; male 63,042)
15-64 years: 50% (female 63,526; male 67,020)
65 years and over: 3% (female 3,537; male 4,147) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 3.58% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 42.8 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 7 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 50 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.49 years
male: 63.99 years
female: 67.07 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 6.17 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian

Ethnic divisions: Sinhalese, Dravidian, Arab, African

Religions: Sunni Muslim

Languages: Divehi (dialect of Sinhala; script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1985)
total population: 91%
male: 91%
female: 92%

Labor force: 66,000 (est.)
by occupation: fishing industry 25%


conventional long form: Republic of Maldives
conventional short form: Maldives

Digraph: MV

Type: republic

Capital: Male

Administrative divisions: 19 districts (atolls); Aliff, Baa, Daalu, Faafu, Gaafu Aliff, Gaafu Daalu, Haa Aliff, Haa Daalu, Kaafu, Laamu, Laviyani, Meemu, Naviyani, Noonu, Raa, Seenu, Shaviyani, Thaa, Waavu

Independence: 26 July 1965 (from UK)

National holiday: Independence Day, 26 July (1965)

Constitution: 4 June 1968

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 and head of government: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM (since 11 November 1978); election last held 1 October 1993 (next to be held 1998); results - President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM was reelected with 92.76% of the vote
cabinet: Ministry of Atolls; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: unicameral
Citizens' Council (Majlis): elections last held 2 December 1994 (next to be held NA December 1999); results - percent of vote NA; seats - (48 total, 40 elected, 8 appointed by the president) independents 40

Judicial branch: High Court

Political parties and leaders: although political parties are not banned, none exist; country governed by the Didi clan for the past eight centuries


Diplomatic representation in US: Maldives has no embassy in the US, but does have a UN mission in New York; Permanent Representative to the UN Ahmed ZAKI

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka is accredited to Maldives and makes periodic visits there
consular agency: Midhath Hilmy, Male
telephone: 322581

Flag: 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


Overview: Fishing is the largest industry, employing 25% of the work force and accounting for over 60% of exports. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. During the 1980s tourism became one of the most important and highest growth sectors of the economy. In 1993, tourism accounted for 17% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives' foreign exchange receipts. The Maldivian government initiated 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 minor role in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivatable land and the shortage of domestic labor. Most staple foods must be imported. In 1993, industry which consisted mainly of garment production, boat building, and handicrafts accounted for about 6% of GDP.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $360 million (1993 est.)

National product real growth rate: 5.4% (1993 est.)

National product per capita: $1,500 (1993 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 20% (1993)

Unemployment rate: NEGL%

revenues: $95 million (excluding foreign transfers)
expenditures: $143 million, including capital expenditures of $71 million (1993 est.)

Exports: $38.5 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: fish, clothing
partners: US, UK, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Germany

Imports: $177.8 million (c.i.f., 1993)
commodities: consumer goods, intermediate and capital goods, petroleum products
partners: Singapore, Germany, Sri Lanka, India, Japan

External debt: $130 million (1993 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate 24% (1990); accounts for 6% of GDP

capacity: 5,000 kW
production: 30 million kWh
consumption per capita: 123 kWh (1993)

Industries: fishing and fish processing, tourism, shipping, boat building, some coconut processing, garments, woven mats, coir (rope), handicrafts

Agriculture: fishing, coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $28 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $125 million; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $14 million

Currency: 1 rufiyaa (Rf) = 100 laari

Exchange rates: rufiyaa (Rf) per US$1 - 11.770 (January 1995), 11.586 (1994), 10.957 (1993), 10.569 (1992), 10.253 (1991), 9.509 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 0 km

total: NA
paved: NA
unpaved: NA (Male has 9.6 km of coral highways within the city)

Ports: Gan, Male

Merchant marine:
total: 16 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 50,384 GRT/77,771 DWT
ships by type: cargo 14, container 1, oil tanker 1

total: 2
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 1
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1


Telephone system: 2,804 telephones; minimal domestic and international facilities
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 1 INTELSAT (Indian Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 1, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 1
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: National Security Service (paramilitary police force)

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 57,172; males fit for military service 31,911 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP