Introduction :: Maldives


A sultanate since the 12th century, the Maldives became a British protectorate in 1887. The islands became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM dominated Maldives’ political scene for 30 years, elected to six successive terms by single-party referendums. Following political demonstrations in the capital Male in August 2003, GAYOOM and his government pledged to embark upon a process of liberalization and democratic reforms, including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Political parties were legalized in 2005.

In June 2008, a constituent assembly – termed the “Special Majlis” – finalized a new constitution ratified by GAYOOM in August 2008. 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 GAYOOM regime. In early February 2012, after several weeks of street protests in response to his ordering the arrest of a top judge, NASHEED purportedly resigned the presidency and handed over power to Vice President Mohammed WAHEED Hassan Maniku. A government-appointed Commission of National Inquiry concluded there was no evidence of a coup, but NASHEED contends that police and military personnel forced him to resign. NASHEED, WAHEED, and Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom ran in the 2013 elections with YAMEEN ultimately winning the presidency after three rounds of voting. As president, YAMEEN weakened democratic institutions, curtailed civil liberties, jailed his political opponents, restricted the press, and exerted control over the judiciary to strengthen his hold on power and limit dissent. In September 2018, YAMEEN lost his reelection bid to Ibrahim Mohamed SOLIH, a parliamentarian of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), who had the support of a coalition of four parties that came together to defeat YAMEEN and restore democratic norms to Maldives. In April 2019, SOLIH’s MDP won 65 of 87 seats in parliament.

Geography :: Maldives


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

Geographic coordinates

3 15 N, 73 00 E

Map references



total: 298 sq km

land: 298 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Area – comparative

Area comparison map

Land boundaries

0 km


644 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines


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


flat, with white sandy beaches


mean elevation: 2 m

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m

highest point: 8th tee, golf course, Villingi Island 5 m

Natural resources


Land use

agricultural land: 23.3% (2011 est.)

arable land: 10% (2011 est.) /** permanent crops:** 10% (2011 est.) /** permanent pasture:** 3.3% (2011 est.)

forest: 3% (2011 est.)

other: 73.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

about a third of the population lives in the centrally located capital city of Male and almost a tenth in southern Addu City; the remainder of the populace is spread over the 200 or so populated islands of the archipelago

Natural hazards

tsunamis; low elevation of islands makes them sensitive to sea level rise

Environment – current issues

depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; inadequate sewage treatment; 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

smallest Asian country; archipelago of 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts); strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean

People and Society :: Maldives


391,904 (July 2020 est.)


noun: Maldivian(s)

adjective: Maldivian

Ethnic groups

homogeneous mixture of Sinhalese, Dravidian, Arab, Australasian, and African resulting from historical changes in regional hegemony over marine trade routes


Dhivehi (official, dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English (spoken by most government officials)


Sunni Muslim (official)

Age structure

population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 30.2

youth dependency ratio: 25.5

elderly dependency ratio: 4.7

potential support ratio: 21.4 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 29.5 years

male: 29.2 years

female: 30 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

-0.08% (2020 est.)

Birth rate

16 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Death rate

4.1 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Net migration rate

-12.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Population distribution

about a third of the population lives in the centrally located capital city of Male and almost a tenth in southern Addu City; the remainder of the populace is spread over the 200 or so populated islands of the archipelago


urban population: 40.7% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 2.93% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas – population

177,000 MALE (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.27 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.19 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female

total population: 1.13 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother’s mean age at first birth

24.5 years (2009 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality rate

53 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 19.8 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 22 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 17.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 76.4 years

male: 74 years

female: 78.9 years (2020 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.71 children born/woman (2020 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

34.7% (2009)

Drinking water source

improved:** urban:** 98.3% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved:** urban:** 1.7% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

9% (2017)

Physicians density

3.72 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

4.3 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Sanitation facility access

improved:** urban:** 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved:** urban:** 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS – deaths


Obesity – adult prevalence rate

8.6% (2016)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

17.7% (2009)

Education expenditures

4.1% of GDP (2016)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.7%

male: 97.3%

female: 98.1% (2016)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 15.9%

male: 19.1%

female: 12.1% (2016 est.)

Government :: Maldives

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Maldives

conventional short form: Maldives

local long form: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa

local short form: Dhivehi Raajje

etymology: archipelago apparently named after the main island (and capital) of Male; the word “Maldives” means “the islands (dives) of Male”; alternatively, the name may derive from the Sanskrit word “maladvipa” meaning “garland of islands”; Dhivehi Raajje in Dhivehi means “Kingdom of the Dhivehi people”

Government type

presidential republic


name: Male

geographic coordinates: 4 10 N, 73 30 E

time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: derived from the Sanskrit word “mahaalay” meaning “big house”

Administrative divisions

21 administrative atolls (atholhuthah, singular – atholhu); Addu (Addu City), Ariatholhu Dhekunuburi (South Ari Atoll), Ariatholhu Uthuruburi (North Ari Atoll), Faadhippolhu, Felidhuatholhu (Felidhu Atoll), Fuvammulah, Hahdhunmathi, Huvadhuatholhu Dhekunuburi (South Huvadhu Atoll), Huvadhuatholhu Uthuruburi (North Huvadhu Atoll), Kolhumadulu, Maale (Male), Maaleatholhu (Male Atoll), Maalhosmadulu Dhekunuburi (South Maalhosmadulu), Maalhosmadulu Uthuruburi (North Maalhosmadulu), Miladhunmadulu Dhekunuburi (South Miladhunmadulu), Miladhunmadulu Uthuruburi (North Miladhunmadulu), Mulakatholhu (Mulaku Atoll), Nilandheatholhu Dhekunuburi (South Nilandhe Atoll), Nilandheatholhu Uthuruburi (North Nilandhe Atoll), Thiladhunmathee Dhekunuburi (South Thiladhunmathi), Thiladhunmathee Uthuruburi (North Thiladhunmathi)


26 July 1965 (from the UK)

National holiday

Independence Day, 26 July (1965)


history: many previous; latest ratified 7 August 2008

amendments: proposed by Parliament; passage requires at least three-quarters majority vote by its membership and the signature of the president of the republic; passage of amendments to constitutional articles on rights and freedoms and the terms of office of Parliament and of the president also requires a majority vote in a referendum; amended 2015

Legal system

Islamic (sharia) legal system with English common law influences, primarily in commercial matters

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Maldives

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: unknown


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Ibrahim “Ibu” Mohamed SOLIH (since 17 November 2018); Vice President Faisal NASEEM (since 17 November 2018); the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Ibrahim Mohamed SOLIH (since 17 November 2018); Vice President Faisal NASEEM (since 17 November 2018)

cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by Parliament

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 23 September 2018 (next to be held in 2023)
election results: Ibrahim Mohamed SOLIH elected president (in 1 round); Ibrahim Mohamed SOLIH (MDP) 58.3%, Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom (PPM) 41.7%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament or People’s Majlis (87 seats – includes 2 seats added by the Elections Commission in late 2018; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)

elections: last held on 6 April 2019 (next to be held in 2023)

election results: percent of vote – MDP 44.7%, JP 10.8%, PPM 8.7%, PNC 6.4%, MDA 2.8%, other 5.6%, independent 21%; seats by party – MDP 65, JP 5, PPM 5, PNC 3, MDA 2, independent 7; composition – men 83, women 4, percent of women 4.6%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 4-6 justices; note – 3 justices as of late 2019)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission – a 10-member body of selected high government officials and the public – and upon confirmation by voting members of the People’s Majlis; 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)

Political parties and leaders

Adhaalath (Justice) Party or AP [Sheikh Imran ABDULLA]
Maldives Development Alliance or MDA [Ahmed Shiyam MOHAMED]
Maldivian Democratic Party or MDP [Mohamed NASHEED]
Maldives Labor and Social Democratic Party or MLSDP [Ahmed SHIHAM]
Maldives Third Way Democrats or MTD [Ahmed ADEEB]
Maldives Reform Movement or MRM [Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM]
People’s National Congress or PNC [Abdul Raheem ABDULLA] (formed in early 2019)
Progressive Party of Maldives or PPM [Abdulla YAMEEN]
Republican (Jumhooree) Party or JP Qasim IBRAHIM

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

Ambassador THILMEEZA Hussain (since 8 July 2019)
chancery: 801 Second Avenue, Suite 400E, New York, NY 10017

telephone: 1 599-6194 and 599-6195

FAX: 1 661-6405

Diplomatic representation from the US

the US does not have an embassy in Maldives; US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Alaina TEPLITZ (since 1 November 2018), is accredited to both countries

Flag description

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

National symbol(s)

coconut palm, yellowfin tuna; national colors: red, green, white

National anthem


Economy :: Maldives

Economy – overview

Maldives has quickly become a middle-income country, driven by the rapid growth of its tourism and fisheries sectors, but the country still contends with a large and growing fiscal deficit. Infrastructure projects, largely funded by China, could add significantly to debt levels. Political turmoil and the declaration of a state of emergency in February 2018 led to the issuance of travel warnings by several countries whose citizens visit Maldives in significant numbers, but the overall impact on tourism revenue was unclear.

In 2015, Maldives Parliament passed a constitutional amendment legalizing foreign ownership of land; foreign land-buyers must reclaim at least 70% of the desired land from the ocean and invest at least $1 billion in a construction project approved by Parliament.

Diversifying the economy beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finance, increasing employment opportunities, and combating corruption, cronyism, and a growing drug problem are near-term 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 1 meter or less above sea level.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$6.901 billion (2017 est.)
$6.583 billion (2016 est.)
$6.3 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$4.505 billion (2017 est.)

GDP – real growth rate

4.8% (2017 est.)
4.5% (2016 est.)
2.2% (2015 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP)

$19,200 (2017 est.)
$18,600 (2016 est.)
$18,100 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving

0.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
-4.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
12.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use

household consumption: NA (2016 est.)

government consumption: NA (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: NA (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: NA (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 93.6% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: 89% (2016 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3% (2015 est.)

industry: 16% (2015 est.)

services: 81% (2015 est.)

Agriculture – products

coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish


tourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining

Industrial production growth rate

14% (2012 est.)

Labor force

222,200 (2017 est.)

Labor force – by occupation

agriculture: 7.7%

industry: 22.8%

services: 69.5% (2017 est.)

Unemployment rate

2.9% (2017 est.)
3.2% (2016 est.)

Population below poverty line

15% (2009 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 33.3% (FY09/10)


revenues: 1.19 billion (2016 est.)

expenditures: 1.643 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

26.4% (of GDP) (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-10.1% (of GDP) (2016 est.)

Public debt

63.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
61.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.3% (2017 est.)
0.8% (2016 est.)

Current account balance

-$876 million (2017 est.)
-$1.033 billion (2016 est.)


$256.2 million (2016 est.)
$239.8 million (2015 est.)

Exports – partners

Thailand 42.8%, Sri Lanka 8.7%, Bangladesh 6.4%, France 6.2%, US 6.1%, Germany 5%, Ireland 4.6% (2017)

Exports – commodities



$2.125 billion (2016 est.)
$1.896 billion (2015 est.)

Imports – commodities

petroleum products, clothing, intermediate and capital goods

Imports – partners

UAE 17.1%, India 13.5%, Singapore 13.3%, China 10.8%, Sri Lanka 6.7%, Malaysia 6%, Thailand 4.5% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$477.9 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$575.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt – external

$848.8 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$696.2 million (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

rufiyaa (MVR) per US dollar –
15.42 (2017 est.)
15.35 (2016 est.)

Energy :: Maldives

Electricity access

electrification – total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity – production

402 million kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – consumption

373.9 million kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – exports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – imports

0 kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – installed generating capacity

278,000 kW (2016 est.)

Electricity – from fossil fuels

96% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

Electricity – from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from other renewable sources

4% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Crude oil – production

0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

Crude oil – exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – imports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)

Refined petroleum products – production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – consumption

11,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)

Refined petroleum products – exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – imports

10,840 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas – production

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – consumption

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – exports

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – imports

0 cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2016 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

1.648 million Mt (2017 est.)

Communications :: Maldives

Telephones – fixed lines

total subscriptions: 18,754

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (2018 est.)

Telephones – mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 857,934

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 219 (2018 est.)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: upgrades to telecom infrastructure extended to outer islands; two mobile operators extend LTE coverage; tourism has strengthened the telecom market with investment and accounts for the high mobile penetration rate; mobile penetration passes 250%; launches 5G trials (2020)

domestic: fixed-line is at 5 per 100 persons and high mobile-cellular subscriptions stands at 219 per 100 persons (2018)

international: country code – 960; landing points for Dhiraagu Cable Network, NaSCOM, Dhiraagu-SLT Submarine Cable Networks and WARF submarine cables providing connections to 8 points in Maldives, India, and Sri Lanka; satellite earth station – 3 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic’s effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry – mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite – has moderated

Broadcast media

state-owned radio and TV monopoly until recently; 4 state-operated and 7 privately owned TV stations and 4 state-operated and 7 privately owned radio stations (2019)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 248,004

percent of population: 63.19% (July 2018 est.)

Broadband – fixed subscriptions

total: 53,470

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14 (2018 est.)

Military and Security :: Maldives

Military and security forces

the Republic of Maldives has no distinct army, navy, or air force but a single security unit called the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) comprised of ground forces, an air element, a coastguard, a presidential security division, and a special protection group (2020)
note: the MNDF is primarily tasked to reinforce the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and ensure security in the country’s exclusive economic zone

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has approximately 2,500 personnel (2019 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

India has provided most of the equipment in the MNDF’s inventory (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18-28 years of age for voluntary service; no conscription; 10th grade or equivalent education required; must not be a member of a political party

Transportation :: Maldives

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 36

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 1,147,247 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 7.75 million (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

8Q (2016)


9 (2013)

Airports – with paved runways

total: 7 (2017)

over 3,047 m: 1 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m: 4 (2017)

Airports – with unpaved runways

total: 2 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)


total: 93 km (2018)

paved: 93 km – 60 km in Male; 16 km on Addu Atolis; 17 km on Laamu (2018)

note: island roads are mainly compacted coral

Merchant marine

total: 62

by type: bulk carrier 1, general cargo 20, oil tanker 16, other 25 (2019)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Male

Transnational Issues :: Maldives

Disputes – international


Trafficking in persons

current situation: Maldives is a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and a source country for women and children subjected to labor and sex trafficking; primarily 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 and withholding of wages, and debt bondage; a small number of women from Asia, Eastern Europe, and former Soviet states are trafficked to Maldives for sexual exploitation; Maldivian women may be subjected to sex trafficking domestically or in Sri Lanka; some Maldivian children are transported to the capital for domestic service, where they may also be victims of sexual abuse and forced labor

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List Maldives does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; the government adopted a national action plan for 2015-19 and is continuing to develop victim identification, protection, and referral procedures, but overall its anti-trafficking efforts did not increase; only five trafficking investigations were conducted, no new prosecutions were initiated for the second consecutive year, and no convictions were made, down from one in 2013; some officials warned businesses in advance of planned raids for suspected trafficking offenses; victim protection deteriorated when the state-run shelter for female victims barred access to victims shortly after opening in January 2014, in part because of bureaucratic disputes, which dissuaded victims from pursuing charges against perpetrators; the government did not prosecute or hold accountable any employers or government officials for withholding passports (2015)


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