OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Maldives
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Republic
AREA: 298 Sq Km (115 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 287,200
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Maldives is an archipelago of atolls
located in the north central Indian Ocean. The territory is comprised of
1,190 islands, of which 202 are inhabited. Generally, the islands are low
with many tiny banks washed by the ocean while some atolls are encircled
by reefs. Others are made up of small ring shaped reefs while many contain
fresh water lagoons and have marshy coastal areas. Major Cities (pop. est.);
Male 55,100 (1990). Land Use; forested 3%, pastures 3%, agricultural-cultivated
10%, other 84% (1993).
CLIMATE: The Maldives has a tropical climate characterized by
hot and humid conditions with little daily variation. The islands are subject
to the SW Monsoon between June and August, and the NE Monsoon from November
to March. Average annual precipitation is 2,540 mm (100 inches) in the
north and 3,810 mm (150 inches) in the south. The average temperature ranges
are from 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) to 29 degrees Celsius
(84 degrees Fahrenheit) all year.
PEOPLE: The people of Maldives are divided into four main ethnic
strains. The Sinhalese, the Dravidian, the Arabs and the Black Africans.
The only ethnic minority are the Indians.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 745 persons per sq km
(1,930 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 25.9% urban, 74.1% rural
(1990). Sex Distribution; 51.3% male, 48.7% female (1990). Life Expectancy
at Birth; 66.0 years male, 64.1 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 47%
under 15, 27% 15 to 29, 12% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and
over (1990). Birth Rate; 41.0 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 6.0 per 1,000
(1990). Increase Rate; 35.0 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 34.0
per 1,000 live births (1990).
RELIGIONS: The official religion is Islam with the overwhelming
majority Sunni Muslims.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Divehi, which is also the
national language and the dialect of Sinhalese with a script derived from
Arabic. English is also spoken by most government officials.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
31.2%, primary 30.6%, secondary 3.5%, vocational 34.4%, higher 0.2%, unspecified
0.2% (1985). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 90,189 or 90.4%
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: As a British protectorate, the
Maldives received internal self-government while Britain handled their
foreign affairs and defense. In the 1950's a dispute between the Maldivians
and the British over an air base on Gan Island led to the secession of
three southern atolls. The Maldivian government accused Britain of invoking
a rebellion and subsequently crushed it. In 1960 Britain and the Maldives
signed an agreement that gave Britain free use of the Gan Island base.
On July 26, 1965 the Maldives gained complete independence from Britain
with Ibrahim Nasir as Prime Minister. After a referendum in Nov. 1968 the
Maldives became a republic and Nasir was elected President. In 1976 Britain
withdrew from the Gan Island air base and in 1978 Nasir stood down and
left the country. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was elected as the Maldives next
President. Pres. Gayoom was reelected in Sept. 1983 as well as Sept. 1988
and also survived three individual coup attempts in 1980, 1981 and 1988
with the 1988 coup only suppressed after India sent troops to defeat the
mercenaries. In 1985 the Maldives and six other countries established the
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which is a regional
association that deals with social and economic issues. Also in the same
year the Maldives became a full member of the Commonwealth after its "Special
Membership Status" was granted in 1982. In 1991 the Maldives received
assistance from the UN FAO's Bay of Bengal Program (BOBP) that attempted
to improve small-scale fisheries' income and productivity with lower costs
as well as carried out a program to determine the abundance of Tuna in
the Maldives' offshore waters. In the same year the government imposed
press censorship in an attempt to quell the growing demands for a fully
elected legislature (Majlis). In 1992 Pres. Gayoom attended the sixth annual
SAARC summit in Colombo, Sri Lanka and later lifted visa restrictions for
tourists from Sri Lanka. Also in 1992 there was growing opposition to Pres.
Gayoom's regime from young Maldivians with allegations of corruption. In
Jan. 1993 some 25% of shares in the state-owned Bank of Maldives were offered
to the public and in Oct. 1993 Pres. Gayoom was reelected for another five
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Rufiyaa (Rf) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $194,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $111,600,000 (1993). Imports; Rf 2,096,704,000 (1993). Exports;
Rf 377,397,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $146,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; USD -$133,700,000 (1993). Economically Active Population; 56,435
or 26.5% of total population (1990). Unemployed; 0.9% (1990).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are Japan, Sri
Lanka, Thailand and the USA.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Coconuts, Fish, Fruit and Vegetables.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Boat Building, Fishing, Fish Processing,
Garments, Handicrafts, Tourism.
MAIN EXPORTS: Canned Processed Fish, Garments.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; N/A. Vehicles; cars 623 (1990),
trucks and buses 813 (1990). Merchant Marine; vessels 45 (1990), deadweight
tonnage 122,801 (1990). Air Transport; N/A.
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 2 with a total circulation
of 4,300 (1993). Radio; receivers 25,000 (1994). Television; receivers
8,523 (1994). Telephones; units 8,523 (1992).
MILITARY: Around 1,000 (1993) total active duty personnel.