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
Population: 394,451 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 21.5% (male 43,332/female 41,642)

15-64 years:  74.4% (male 177,365/female 116,552)

65 years and over: 4.1% (male 7,888/female 8,220) (2011 est.)

Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Maldives

conventional short form: Maldives

local long form: Dhivehi RaajjeygeJumhooriyyaa

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)

Telephones – main lines in use: 48,000 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 494,400 (2009)
Airports: 6 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 4

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)

Military branches: Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF): Quick Reaction Force, Security Protection Group, Coast Guard (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 18-28 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription; 10th grade or equivalent education required; must not be a member of a political party (2012)


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 labour. 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.

Transnational Issues:

Disputes – international: none
Refugees and internally displaced persons: IDPs: 1,000-10,000 (December 2004 tsunami victims) (2007)