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Country profile: The-Maldives

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Map of The-Maldives

The Maldives is made up of a chain of nearly 1 200 islands  most of them uninhabited  which lie off the Indian sub-continent.

None of the coral islands measures more than 1.8 metres (six feet) above sea level  making the country vulnerable to a rise in sea levels associated with global warming.


With its abundant sealife and sandy beaches  The Maldives is portrayed by travel companies as a tropical paradise.

A street vendor in the capital, Male
A third of the population lives in the crowded capital

The economy revolves around tourism  and scores of islands have been
developed for the top end of the tourist market.

Aside from the island capital Male  outsiders are only permitted onto inhabited islands for brief visits  thereby limiting their impact on traditional Muslim communities.

Many Maldivians live in poverty. However  the country has developed its infrastructure and industries  including the fisheries sector  and has boosted health care  education and literacy.

The Maldives was hit by the December 2004 Asian tsunami. Homes and resorts were devastated by the waves  precipitating a major rebuilding programme.

There is a fear that as sea levels rise  island countries such as the Maldives  and some Pacific territories  will simply be swamped and disappear.

  • Full name: Republic of Maldives
  • Population: 309 000 (UN  2009)
  • Capital: Male
  • Area: 298 sq km (115 sq miles)
  • Major language: Divehi
  • Major religion: Islam
  • Life expectancy: 70 years (men)  73 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 rufiyaa = 100 laari
  • Main exports: Fish
  • GNI per capita: US $3 630 (World Bank  2008)
  • Internet domain: .mv
  • International dialling code: +960


President: Mohamed Nasheed

A former political prisoner  Mohamed 'Anni' Nasheed was elected in the Maldives' first multi-party presidential elections in October 2008  ending President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's 30-year autocratic rule.

President Mohamed Nasheed
President Nasheed: Won islands' first democratic elections

After falling short of an absolute majority in the first round  Mr Nasheed united opposition support in the run-off winning 54% of the vote to Mr Gayoom's 46%.

Mohamed Nasheed had long been at the forefront of efforts to push Mr Gayoom towards democratisation  organising the Maldives' main opposition party while exile in Britain.

Before seeking refuge abroad  he was repeatedly jailed for his political activities  and says he was tortured twice while in prison.

He returned from the UK to the Maldives in 2005  after parliament voted to lift a ban on political parties.

After the election  the new president promised a "smooth transition to
democracy" and more freedom  as well as action to combat corruption  widely seen to have flourished in decades of authoritarian rule.

He has insisted he will not bring corruption charges against his predecessor  saying the way Mr Gayoom is treated will be a "test of our democracy".

A new constitution ratified in August 2008 contained provisions for separating the country's executive and legislature and enshrined a bill of rights. It also provided for the country's first multi-party presidential elections to take place.

The challenges facing the new president also include threats to the largely tourism-based economy posed by the global credit crisis  a widespread drugs problem and growing radical Islamist activity.

Born in 1967  Mr Nasheed was educated in Sri Lanka and Britain  and has a degree in maritime engineering.


The government operates Voice of Maldives radio and Television Maldives. The first private radio station opened in 2007 and a handful of private TV stations have been licensed.

Media rights group Reporters Without Borders describes radio licence charges as exorbitant. Minivan Radio  an opposition station  operates via the internet.

Divehi-language dailies tend to include English-language pages. They concentrate on local and regional stories.

Broadcasters and newspapers carry criticism of the state  but officials have powers to close media outlets. Self-regulation means that little official action is taken against journalists.

In April 2009 President Nasheed pledged to deregulate the media and ensure press freedom and competition.

The press


  • Television Maldives (TVM) - state-owned  operates two channels
  • DhiTV - private
  • VTV - private









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