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 a process of liberalization and 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, a Commission of National Inquiry was set by the government to probe events leading up to NASHEED's resignation. Though the commission found no evidence of a coup, 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. Maldivian officials have played a prominent role in international climate change discussions (due to the islands' vulnerability to rising sea-level) on the UN Human Rights Council and in other international forums, as well as in encouraging regional cooperation, especially between India and Pakistan.



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

about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


644 km

Maritime claims

measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


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


flat, with white sandy beaches


mean elevation: 1.8 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Viligili in the Addu Atholhu 2.4 m

Natural resources


Land use

agricultural land: 23.3%
arable land 10%; permanent crops 10%; permanent pasture 3.3%
forest: 3%
other: 73.7% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

0 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

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

Environment - current issues

depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; 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

Ethnic groups

South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs


392,960 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian

Birth rate

16 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)


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


Sunni Muslim (official)

Median age

total: 27.8 years
male: 27.8 years
female: 27.8 years (2016 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 21.21% (male 42,513/female 40,824)
15-24 years: 21.29% (male 48,319/female 35,360)
25-54 years: 47.63% (male 107,152/female 80,031)
55-64 years: 5.48% (male 10,749/female 10,799)
65 years and over: 4.38% (male 8,012/female 9,201) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 47.4%
youth dependency ratio: 40.5%
elderly dependency ratio: 6.9%
potential support ratio: 14.4% (2015 est.)

Population growth rate

-0.07% (2016 est.)

Death rate

3.9 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-12.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)


urban population: 45.5% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 4.49% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

MALE (capital) 156,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.37 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.34 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.23 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

68 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 22.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.6 years
male: 73.3 years
female: 78 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.73 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

34.7% (2009)

Health expenditures

13.7% of GDP (2014)

Physicians density

1.42 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

4.3 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking water source

urban: 99.5% of population
rural: 97.9% of population
total: 98.6% of population
urban: 0.5% of population
rural: 2.1% of population
total: 1.4% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 97.5% of population
rural: 98.3% of population
total: 97.9% of population
urban: 2.5% of population
rural: 1.7% of population
total: 2.1% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.01% (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

fewer than 100 (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

fewer than 100 (2013 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

7% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

17.8% (2009)

Education expenditures

5.7% of GDP (2015)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.3%
male: 99.8%
female: 98.8% (2015 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2009 est.)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 25.4%
male: 29.1%
female: 21.4% (2010 est.)


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 Maldivian 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)

Administrative divisions

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)

National holiday

Independence Day, 26 July (1965)


many previous; latest ratified 7 August 2008; amended 2015 (2016)

Legal system

Islamic religious 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 the Maldives
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: unknown


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom (since 17 November 2013); Vice President Abdulla JIHAD (since 21 June 2016); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government; Vice President Ahmed ADHEEB Abdul Ghafoor (since 22 July 2015) was removed from office 5 November 2015
head of government: President Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom (since 17 November 2013); Vice President Abdulla JIHAD (since 22 June 2016); note - Vice President Ahmed ADHEEB Abdul Ghafoor (since 22 July 2015) was removed from office 5 November 2015
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
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); the election held on 7 September 2013 was annulled by the Supreme Court; rerun of first round held on 9 November 2013 and a runoff held on 16 November (next election to be held in 2018)
election results: first round - percent of vote - Mohamed NASHEED (MDP) 46.9%, Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom (PPM) 29.7%, Qasim IBRAHIM (JP) 23.3%; runoff second round - percent of vote - Abdulla YAMEEN Abdul Gayoom elected president 51.4%, Mohamed NASHEED 48.6%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Parliament or People's Majlis (85 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 22 March 2014 (next to be held in 2019)
election results: percent of vote - MDP 40.8%, MDP 27.7%, JP 13.6%, MDA 4.0%, AP 2.7% other 0.3%, independent 10.9%; seats by party - PPM 33, MDP 26, JP 15, MDA 5, AP 1, independent 5

Judicial branch

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 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]
Maldavian Democratic Party or MDP [Ali WAHEED]
Progressive Party of Maldives or PPM [Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM]
Republican (Jumhooree) Party or JP [Qasim IBRAHIM]

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: various unregistered political parties

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Ahmed SAREER (since 11 January 2013)
chancery: 801 Second Avenue, Suite 202E, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 599-6194 and 599-6195
FAX: [1] (212) 661-6405

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

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

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"


Population below poverty line

16% (2008 est.)

Economy - overview

Maldives has rapidly grown into a middle-income country, driven by tourism development. In 2015, the economy’s growth slowed to 4.8%, mainly due to lower tourism sector growth as tourist arrivals from China declined. However, the slowdown is expected to r

In July 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 b

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 Maldivi

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$5.407 billion (2016 est.)
$5.249 billion (2015 est.)
$5.171 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$3.27 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

3% (2016 est.)
1.5% (2015 est.)
6.5% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$15,300 (2016 est.)
$15,100 (2015 est.)
$15,100 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

8.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
10.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
16.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: NA%
government consumption: NA%
investment in fixed capital: NA%
investment in inventories: NA%
exports of goods and services: 108.2%
imports of goods and services: 89.3% (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.5%
industry: 19.3%
services: 77.2% (2014 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

195,100 (2014)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 15%
industry: 15%
services: 70% (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate

11.6% (2013 est.)
11% (2012 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

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

Distribution of family income - Gini index

37.4 (2004 est.)


revenues: $960 million
expenditures: $1.156 billion (2014 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

29.4% of GDP (2014 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-6% of GDP (2014 est.)

Public debt

72.8% of GDP (2014)
66.7% of GDP (2013)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.1% (2016 est.)
1.4% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

7% (31 December 2013)
6.96% (31 December 2011)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

10.5% (31 December 2012 est.)
10.2% (31 December 2011 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$623 million (31 December 2013 est.)
$547.1 million (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of broad money

$1.538 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.298 billion (31 December 2012 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$1.559 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.601 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$555 million (31 December 2011 est.)

Current account balance

-$389 million (2016 est.)
-$296 million (2015 est.)


$300.9 million (2014 est.)
$331 million (2013 est.)

Exports - commodities


Exports - partners

Thailand 18%, France 12.1%, Germany 10.7%, US 9.6%, Italy 6.8%, UK 6.4%, Sri Lanka 5.9%, Japan 4.6% (2015)


$1.993 billion (2014 est.)
$1.733 billion (2013 est.)

Imports - commodities

petroleum products, clothing, intermediate and capital goods

Imports - partners

UAE 18.4%, Singapore 13.8%, China 10.6%, India 10.4%, Malaysia 7%, Sri Lanka 5.6%, Thailand 5% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$627.4 million (31 December 2014 est.)
$381.9 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Debt - external

$741.6 million (2014 est.)
$792.2 million (2013 est.)

Exchange rates

rufiyaa (MVR) per US dollar -
15.25 (2016 est.)
15.25 (2015)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

300 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

300 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

82,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

100% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

7,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

10,760 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

1.2 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 21,911
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 740,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 188 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

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 over 180 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) (2015)

Broadcast media

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)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 214,000
percent of population: 54.5% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 15 (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

8Q (2016)


9 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

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)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)


total: 88 km
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)

Merchant marine

total: 18
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)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Male


Military branches

Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF): Marine Corps, Security Protection Group, Coast Guard (2010)

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 (2012)

Military - note

the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), with its small size and with little serviceable equipment, is inadequate to prevent external aggression and is primarily tasked to reinforce the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and ensure security in the exclusive economic zone (2008)

Transnational Issues

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 2015-2019 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 advanced 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)