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Capital: Male
Population: 282,000
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Maldives Map


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

Geographic coordinates: 3 15 N, 73 00 E

Map references: Asia

total: 300 sq km
land: 300 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Area - comparative: about 1.7 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

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

Terrain: flat, with white sandy beaches

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point : unnamed location on Wilingili 24 m

Natural resources: fish

Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops : 0%
permanent pastures: 3%
forests and woodland : 3%
other: 84% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: NA sq km

Natural hazards: low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise

Environment - current issues: depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

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


Population: 320,165 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 45.3% (male 74,493; female 70,394)
15-64 years : 51.7% (male 84,548; female 81,092)
65 years and over: 3% (male 4,944; female 4,694) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.95% (2002 est.)

Birth rate: 37.41 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate: 7.86 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years : 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.05 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 61.93 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 62.93 years
male:61.72 years
female: 64.2 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate: 5.38 children born/woman (2002 est.)

noun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian

Ethnic groups: Sinhalese, Dravidian, Arab, African

Religions: Sunni Muslim

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

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.2%
male: 93.3%
female: 93% (1995 est.)


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Maldives
conventional short form: Maldives
local long form : Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
local short form: Dhivehi Raajje

Data code: MV

Government type: republic

National capital: Male (Maale)

Administrative divisions: 19 atolls (atholhu, singular and plural) and 1 other first-order administrative division*; Alifu, Baa, Dhaalu, Faafu, Gaafu Alifu, Gaafu Dhaalu, Gnaviyani, Haa Alifu, Haa Dhaalu, Kaafu, Laamu, Lhaviyani, Maale*, Meemu, Noonu, Raa, Seenu, Shaviyani, Thaa, Vaavu

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: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM (since 11 November 1978); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM (since 11 November 1978); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Ministry of Atolls appointed by the president; note - need not be members of Majilis
elections :president nominated by the Majlis and then that nomination must be ratified by a national referendum (at least a 51% approval margin is required); president elected for a five-year term; election last held 16 October 1998 (next to be held NA October 2003)
election results: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM reelected; percent of popular vote - Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM 90.9%

Legislative branch: unicameral People's Council or Majlis (50 seats; 42 elected by popular vote, 8 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)
elections:last held 20 November 1999 (next to be held NA November 2004
election results : percent of vote - NA%; seats - independents 42

Judicial branch: High Court

Political parties and leaders: although political parties are not banned, none exist

International organization participation: AsDB, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OIC, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

Diplomatic representation in the US: Maldives does not have an embassy in the US, but does have a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, headed by Ahmed ZAKI

Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Maldives; the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka is accredited to Maldives and makes periodic visits there

Flag description: 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


Economy - overview: Tourism, Maldives largest industry, accounts for 20% 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. Almost 400,000 tourists visited the islands in 1998. Fishing is a second leading sector. 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. Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play a minor role in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labor. Most staple foods must be imported. Industry, which consists mainly of garment production, boat building, and handicrafts, accounts for about 18% of GDP. Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming on their low-lying country; 80% of the area is one meter or less above sea level.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.2 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 7% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $ $3,870 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 20%
industry: 18%
services: 62% (2000 est.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 3% (2000 est.)

Labor force:
total: 67,000 (1995)
by occupation: fishing industry and agriculture 25%, services 21%, manufacturing and construction 21%, trade, restaurants, and hotels 16%, transportation and communication 10%, other 7%

Unemployment rate: NEGL%

revenues: $166 million (excluding foreign grants)
expenditures: $192 million, including capital expenditures of $80 million (1999 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate: 4.4% (1996 est.)

Electricity - capacity: 18,000 kW (1994)

Electricity - production: 110 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 102.3 million kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fishing

total value: $88 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
commodities: fish, clothing
partners: US, UK, Sri Lanka, Japan

total value : $372 million (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
commodities: consumer goods, intermediate and capital goods, petroleum products
partners : Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Canada

Debt - external: $237 million (2000 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $NA

Currency: 1 rufiyaa (MVR) = 100 laari

Exchange rates: rrufiyaa per US dollar - 11.770 (fixed rate since 1995)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 21,000 (1999)

Telephone system: minimal domestic and international facilities
domestic: inter-atoll communication primarily through HF transceivers and VHF/UHF telephones
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios: 35,000 (1999)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997)

Televisions:10,000 (1999)


Railways: 0 km

total: NA km
paved: NA km
unpaved: NA km; note - Male has 9.6 km of coral highways within the city (1988 est.)

Ports and harbors: Gan, Male

Merchant marine:
total: 14 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 51,532 GRT/71,298 DWT
ships by type: cargo 13, short-sea passenger 1 (2002 est.)

Airports:5 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m : 1 (2001)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2001)

Heliports: 0


Military branches: National Security Service (paramilitary police force)

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49 : 74,893 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males: 41,672 (2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:$34.5 million (FY01)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 8.6% (FY01)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: none