South Asia :: Maldives

Introduction ::Maldives

    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 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, the Commission of National Inquiry was set by the Government to probe events leading to the regime change. Though no evidence of a coup was found, 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. Maldives 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 United Nations Human Rights Council, and in encouraging regional cooperation, especially between India and Pakistan.

Geography ::Maldives

People and Society ::Maldives

Government ::Maldives

    conventional long form: Republic of Maldives
    conventional short form: Maldives
    local long form: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
    local short form: Dhivehi Raajje
    name: Male
    geographic coordinates: 4 10 N, 73 30 E
    time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
    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)
    26 July 1965 (from the UK)
    Independence Day, 26 July (1965)
    new constitution ratified 7 August 2008
    Islamic religious legal system with English common law influences, primarily in commercial matters
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    18 years of age; universal
    chief of state: President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 7 February 2012); Vice President Mohamed Waheed DEEN (since 22 February 2012); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 7 February 2012)
    cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers is appointed by the president
    (For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
    elections: president elected by direct vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 7 September 2013 with a second round vote scheduled for 28 September 2013 (next election to be held in 2018)
    election results: 7 September 2013 first round results: Mohamed NASHEED 45.45%, Abdulla YAMIN 25.35%, Qasim IBRAHIM 24.07%, Mohamed Waheed HASSAN (incumbent) 5.1%
    unicameral Parliament or People's Majlis (77 seats; members elected by direct vote to serve five-year terms); note - the Majlis in February 2009 passed legislation that increased the number of seats to 77 from 50
    elections: last held on 9 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
    election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party as of February 2013 - MDP 29, PPM 18, DRP 14, JP 6, PA 2, DQP 1, independents 7
    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 body of selected high government officials and the public - and upon confirmation by voting members of the People's Council; 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)
    Adhaalath (Justice) Party or AP [Sheikh Imran ABDULLA]
    Dhivehi Qaumee Party or DQP [Hassan SAEED]
    Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (Maldivian People's Party) or DRP [Ahmed THASMEEN Ali]
    Gaumee Itthihaad Party (National Unity Party) or GIP [Mohamed WAHEED]
    Islamic Democratic Party or IDP
    Maldives Development Alliance or MDA [Ahmed SIYAM]
    Maldives National Congress or MNC [Ali AMJAD]
    Maldives Reform Movement or MRM [Mohamed MUNAWWAR]
    Maldivian Democratic Party or MDP [Moosa MANIKU]
    Maldivian Labor Party or MLP [Ahmed MOOSA]
    Maldivian Social Democratic Party or MSDP [Reeko Ibrahim MANIKU]
    Meedhu Dhaaira
    People's Alliance or PA [Moosa ZAMEERI]
    People's Party or PP [Ahmed RIYAZ]
    Poverty Alleviation Party or PAP
    Progressive Party of Maldives or PPM [Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM]
    Republican (Jumhooree) Party or JP [Gasim IBRAHIM]
    Social Liberal Party or SLP [Mazian RASHEED]
    other: various unregistered political parties
    chief of mission: Ambassador Ahmed SAREER
    chancery: 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400E, New York, NY 10017
    telephone: [1] (212) 599-6194
    FAX: [1] (212) 599-6195
    the US does not have an embassy in Maldives; the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ambassador Michele J. SISON, is accredited to Maldives and makes periodic visits
    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
    coconut palm, yellowfin tuna
    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 ::Maldives

    Tourism, Maldives' largest economic activity, accounts for 28% 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. Economic growth slowed to 3.4% of GDP in 2012, compared to 7.0% in 2011 because of slower tourist arrivals and weak global conditions. Diversifying the economy beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finance, increasing employment opportunities, and combating corruption, cronyism, and a growing drug problem are major near-term challenges facing the government. Gross foreign reserves at the end of November 2012 were approximately $356 million, compared with $326 million in 2011, and were sufficient to finance only 2.6 months of imports. 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.
    $3.106 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 181
    $3.001 billion (2011 est.)
    $2.803 billion (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    $2.209 billion (2012 est.)
    3.5% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 96
    7% (2011 est.)
    7.1% (2010 est.)
    $9,400 (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 122
    $9,200 (2011 est.)
    $8,800 (2010 est.)
    note: data are in 2012 US dollars
    agriculture: 3%
    industry: 17%
    services: 80% (2012 est.)
    coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish
    tourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining
    -0.9% (2004 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    152,500 (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    agriculture: 11%
    industry: 23%
    services: 65% (2006 est.)
    28% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    14.5% (2010 est.)
    16% (2008)
    lowest 10%: 1.2%
    highest 10%: 33.3% (FY09/10)
    revenues: $638 million
    expenditures: $917 million (2012 est.)
    28.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 98
    -12.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    calendar year
    5.1% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
    16.7% (2011 est.)
    7% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 43
    6.96% (31 December 2011 est.)
    10.5% (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    10.2% (31 December 2011 est.)
    $547.1 million (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    $531.4 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    $1.298 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 161
    $1.237 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $1.559 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 142
    $1.601 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
    $555 million (31 December 2011 est.)
    -$600 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    $437 million (2011 est.)
    $283 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 180
    $316 million (2011 est.)
    France 18.6%, Thailand 15.5%, UK 11.2%, Sri Lanka 10%, US 9.2%, Italy 8%, Germany 6.3% (2012)
    $1.406 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 174
    $1.314 billion (2011 est.)
    petroleum products, clothing, intermediate and capital goods
    Singapore 21.4%, UAE 20.3%, India 9.5%, Malaysia 7.5%, China 5.9%, Thailand 5.6%, Sri Lanka 5.1% (2012)
    $356 million (30 November 2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 151
    $326 million (30 November 2011 est.)
    $890.8 million (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 164
    $684.2 million (2011 est.)
    rufiyaa (MVR) per US dollar -
    15.39 (2011)
    14.602 (2011)
    12.8 (2008)
    12.8 (2007)

Energy ::Maldives

Communications ::Maldives

    24,100 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 183
    530,400 (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 164
    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)
    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)
    3,296 (2012)
    country comparison to the world: 153
    86,400 (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 164

Transportation ::Maldives

    9 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    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)
    total: 2
    914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)
    total: 88 km
    country comparison to the world: 215
    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)
    total: 18
    country comparison to the world: 97
    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)

Military ::Maldives

Transnational Issues ::Maldives

    current situation: Maldives is a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and a source country for Maldivian children subjected to human trafficking within the country; Bangladeshi and Indian migrants working both legally and illegally in the construction and service sectors face conditions of forced labor, including fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, nonpayment of wages, and debt bondage; a small number of women from Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Eastern Europe, and former Soviet states are trafficked to Maldives for sexual exploitation; some Maldivian children are transported to the capital for forced domestic service, where they may also be sexually abused
    tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Maldives does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; the government does not have laws prohibiting all human trafficking offenses but introduced an anti-trafficking law to the legislature in December 2012, approved an anti-trafficking plan for 2012-13, and formed an anti-trafficking steering committee in May 2012; the government reported that it prosecuted some sex trafficking cases but did not take concrete actions to protect trafficking victims and prevent trafficking; the government continues to lack systematic procedures for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and referring them to protective services; officials continue to confuse human trafficking with human smuggling and the presence of undocumented migrants (2013)