Maldives

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Republic of Maldives

  • ދިވެހިރާއްޖޭގެ ޖުމްހޫރިއްޔާ (Dhivehi)
  • Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
Anthem:  Qaumii salaam
National Salute
Gaumii salaam
Maldives (orthographic projection).svg
Location of Maldives in the Indian Ocean
Maldives - Location Map (2013) - MDV - UNOCHA.svg
Capital Malé
Official languages Dhivehi
Recognised languages English
Ethnic groups
(2019)
≈100% Maldivians a [1] [2] [3]
Religion
Islam (mandated by law)
Demonym(s) Maldivian
Government Unitary presidential republic
  President
Ibrahim Mohamed Solih [4]
Faisal Naseem
Mohamed Nasheed [5]
Ahmed Abdulla Didi
Legislature People's Majlis
Independence
 from the United Kingdom
26 July 1965
7 August 2008
Area
 Total
298 [6]  km2 (115 sq mi)(187th)
Population
 2018 estimate
392,473(175th)
 2014 census
341,356 [7]
 Density
1,102.5/km2 (2,855.5/sq mi)(11th)
GDP  (PPP)2019 estimate
 Total
Increase2.svg $8.608 billion [8] (162nd)
 Per capita
Increase2.svg $23,154 [8] (69th)
GDP  (nominal)2019 estimate
 Total
Increase2.svg $5.749 billion [8]
 Per capita
Increase2.svg $15,463 [8]
Gini  (2005–2013)37.4 [9]
medium ·  76th (CIA)
HDI  (2017)Increase2.svg 0.717 [10]
high ·  101st
Currency Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR)
Time zone UTC+5 (Maldives Time)
Date formatdd/mm/yy
Driving side left
Calling code +960
ISO 3166 code MV
Internet TLD .mv
  1. Excluding foreign nationals

The Maldives ( /ˈmɔːldvz/ , US: /ˈmɔːldvz/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Dhivehi : ދިވެހިރާއްޖެDhivehi Raajje), officially the Republic of Maldives, is a small country in South Asia, located in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from the Asian continent. The chain of 26 atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to Addu Atoll in the south. Comprising a territory spanning roughly 298 square kilometres (115 sq mi), the Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed sovereign states as well as the smallest Asian country by land area and population, with around 427,756 inhabitants. Malé is the capital and the most populated city, traditionally called the "King's Island" for its central location.

American English Set of dialects of the English language spoken in the United States

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. American English is globally considered to be one of the most influential dialects in the world; more so than any other dialect of English.

South Asia Southern region of Asia

South Asia, or Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan SAARC countries and, for some authorities, adjoining countries to the west and east. Topographically, it is dominated by the Indian Plate, which rises above sea level as Nepal and northern parts of India situated south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. South Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean and on land by West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Arabian Sea A marginal sea of the northern Indian Ocean between the Arabian Peninsula and India

The Arabian Sea is a region of the northern Indian Ocean bounded on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Gulf of Aden, Guardafui Channel and the Arabian Peninsula, on the southeast by the Laccadive Sea, on the southwest by the Somali Sea, and on the east by India. Its total area is 3,862,000 km2 (1,491,000 sq mi) and its maximum depth is 4,652 meters (15,262 ft). The Gulf of Aden in the west connects the Arabian Sea to the Red Sea through the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, and the Gulf of Oman is in the northwest, connecting it to the Persian Gulf.

Contents

The Maldives archipelago is located on the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean, which also forms a terrestrial ecoregion, together with the Chagos Archipelago and Lakshadweep. [11] With an average ground-level elevation of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, [12] it is the world's lowest country, with even its highest natural point being one of the lowest in the world, at 5.1 metres (17 ft). [12] Due to the consequent risks posed by rising sea levels, the government pledged in 2009 to make the Maldives a carbon-neutral country by 2019. [13] [ needs update ]

Chagos-Laccadive Ridge A volcanic ridge and oceanic plateau between the Northern and the Central Indian Ocean.

The Chagos-Laccadive Ridge (CLR), also known as Chagos-Laccadive Plateau, is a prominent volcanic ridge and oceanic plateau extending between the Northern and the Central Indian Ocean.

Chagos Archipelago Archipelago in the Indian Ocean

The Chagos Archipelago or Chagos Islands are a group of seven atolls comprising more than 60 individual tropical islands in the Indian Ocean about 500 kilometres (310 mi) south of the Maldives archipelago. This chain of islands is the southernmost archipelago of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, a long submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean.

Lakshadweep Southwest Union Territory of India

Lakshadweep, formerly known as the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Aminidivi Islands, is a group of islands in the Laccadive Sea, 200 to 440 km off the southwestern coast of India. The archipelago is administered as a union territory and district of India. They were also known as Laccadive Islands, although geographically this is only the name of the central subgroup of the group. Lakshadweep means "one hundred thousand islands" in Sanskrit and Malayalam. The islands form the smallest Union Territory of India and their total surface area is just 32 km2 (12 sq mi). The lagoon area covers about 4,200 km2 (1,600 sq mi), the territorial waters area 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi) and the exclusive economic zone area 400,000 km2 (150,000 sq mi). The region forms a single Indian district with 10 subdivisions. Kavaratti serves as the capital of the Union Territory and the region comes under the jurisdiction of Kerala High Court. The islands are the northernmost of the Lakshadweep-Maldives-Chagos group of islands, which are the tops of a vast undersea mountain range, the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge.

Islam was introduced to the Maldivian archipelago in the 12th century which was consolidated as a sultanate, developing strong commercial and cultural ties with Asia and Africa. From the mid-16th-century, the region came under the increasing influence of European colonial powers, with the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887. Independence from the United Kingdom was granted in 1965 and a presidential republic was established in 1968 with an elected People's Majlis. The ensuing decades have been characterised by political instability, efforts at democratic reform, [14] and environmental challenges posed by climate change. [15]

Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.9 billion followers or 24.4% of the world's population, commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided mankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, believed to be the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.

Asia Earths largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres

Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but also dense and large settlements, as well as vast barely populated regions. Its 4.5 billion people constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Maldives is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It is also a member of the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non Aligned Movement. The World Bank classifies the Maldives as having an upper middle income economy. [16] Fishing has historically been the dominant economic activity, and remains the largest sector by far, followed by the rapidly growing tourism industry. Maldives is rated "high" on the Human Development Index, [10] with its per capita income significantly higher than other SAARC nations. [17]

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Intergovernmental organization

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia. Its member states comprise Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. SAARC comprises 3% of the world's area, 21% of the world's population and 3.8% of the global economy, as of 2015.

Tourism in the Maldives

Tourism is the largest economic industry in the Maldives, as it plays an important role in earning foreign exchange revenues and generating employment in the tertiary sector of the country. The archipelago of the Maldives is the main source of attraction to many tourists visiting the island country.

Human Development Index composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and income indices

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development. A country scores a higher HDI when the lifespan is higher, the education level is higher, and the gross national income GNI (PPP) per capita is higher. It was developed by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, with help from Gustav Ranis of Yale University and Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics, and was further used to measure a country's development by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)'s Human Development Report Office.

The Maldives was a member of the Commonwealth from July 1982 until its withdrawal from the organisation in October 2016 in protest of international criticism of its records with regard to corruption and human rights.

Commonwealth of Nations Intergovernmental organisation

The Commonwealth of Nations, generally known simply as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states.

Toponymy

The name Maldives may derive from Sanskrit mālā (garland) and dvīpa (island), [18] or මාල දිවයිනMaala Divaina ("Necklace Islands") in Sinhala. [19] The Maldivian people are called Dhivehin. The word Dheeb/Deeb (archaic Dhivehi, related to Sanskrit द्वीप, dvīpa) means "island", and Dhives (Dhivehin) means "islanders" (i.e., Maldivians).[ citation needed ]

Sanskrit language of ancient Indian subcontinent

Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a 3,500-year history. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions.

Sinhala language Indo-Aryan language spoken in Sri Lanka

Sinhala, also known as Sinhalese, is the native language of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million. Sinhala is also spoken as the first language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totalling about four million. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. Sinhala is written using Sinhala script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba script.

The ancient Sri Lankan chronicle Mahawamsa refers to an island called Mahiladiva ("Island of Women", महिलादिभ) in Pali, which is probably a mistranslation of the same Sanskrit word meaning "garland".

Jan Hogendorn, Grossman Professor of Economics,[ where? ] theorises that the name Maldives derives from the Sanskrit mālādvīpa (मालाद्वीप), meaning "garland of islands". [18] In Tamil, "Garland of Islands" can be translated as Malai Theevu (மாலைத்தீவு). [20] In Malayalam, "Garland of Islands" can be translated as Maladweepu (മാലദ്വീപ്).[ citation needed ] In Kannada, "Garland of Islands" can be translated as Maaledweepa (ಮಾಲೆದ್ವೀಪ).[ citation needed ] None of these names is mentioned in any literature,[ citation needed ] but classical Sanskrit texts dating back to the Vedic period mention the "Hundred Thousand Islands" ( Lakshadweepa ), a generic name which would include not only the Maldives, but also the Laccadives, Aminidivi Islands, Minicoy, and the Chagos island groups. [21] [ non-primary source needed ]

Some medieval travellers such as Ibn Battuta called the islands Mahal Dibiyat (محل دبيأت) from the Arabic word mahal ("palace"), which must be how the Berber traveller interpreted the local name, having been through Muslim North India, where Perso-Arabic words were introduced to the local vocabulary. [22] This is the name currently inscribed on the scroll in the Maldive state emblem.[ citation needed ] The classical Persian/Arabic name for Maldives is Dibajat. [23] [24] The Dutch referred to the islands as the Maldivische Eilanden (pronounced [mɑlˈdivisə ˈʔɛilɑndə(n)] ),[ citation needed ] while the British anglicised the local name for the islands first to the "Maldive Islands" and later to "Maldives".[ citation needed ]

Garcia da Orta writes in a conversational book first published in 1563, writes as follows: "I must tell you that I have heard it said that the natives do not call it Maldiva but Nalediva. In the Malabar language nale means four and diva island. So that in that language the word signifies "four islands," while we, corrupting the name, call it Maldiva." [25]


History

Ancient history and settlement

The first Maldivians did not leave any archaeological artifacts . Their buildings were probably built of wood, palm fronds, and other perishable materials, which would have quickly decayed in the salt and wind of the tropical climate. Moreover, chiefs or headmen did not reside in elaborate stone palaces, nor did their religion require the construction of large temples or compounds. [26]

Comparative studies of Maldivian oral, linguistic, and cultural traditions confirm that the first settlers were people from the southern shores of the neighboring Indian subcontinent, [27] including the Giraavaru people, mentioned in ancient legends and local folklore about the establishment of the capital and kingly rule in Malé. [28]

A strong underlying layer of Dravidian population and culture survives in Maldivian society, with a clear Tamil-Malayalam substratum in the language, which also appears in place names, kinship terms, poetry, dance, and religious beliefs. Malabari seafaring culture led to the settlement of the Islands by Malayali seafarers. [2]

The earliest written history of the Maldives was marked by the arrival of Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka and the Maldives (Mahiladvipika) circa 543 to 483 BC, as reported in the Mahavansa . Their settlement marks a significant change in demographics and the development of the Indo-Aryan language Dhivehi language.[ citation needed ]

Buddhist period

Isdhoo Lomafanu is the oldest copper-plate book to have been discovered in the Maldives to date. The book was written in AD 1194 (590 AH) in the Evela form of the Divehi akuru, during the reign of Siri Fennaadheettha Mahaa Radun (Dhinei Kalaminja). Loamaafaanu.jpg
Isdhoo Lōmāfānu is the oldest copper-plate book to have been discovered in the Maldives to date. The book was written in AD 1194 (590 AH) in the Evēla form of the Divehi akuru, during the reign of Siri Fennaadheettha Mahaa Radun (Dhinei Kalaminja).

Despite being just mentioned briefly in most history books, the 1,400-year-long Buddhist period has foundational importance in the history of the Maldives. It was during this period that the culture of the Maldives both developed and flourished, a culture which survives today. The Maldivian language, early Maldive scripts, architecture, ruling institutions, customs, and manners of the Maldivians originated at the time when the Maldives were a Buddhist kingdom. [29]

Buddhism probably spread to the Maldives in the 3rd century BC at the time of Emperor Ashoka's expansion and became the dominant religion of the people of the Maldives until the 12th century AD. The ancient Maldivian Kings promoted Buddhism, and the first Maldive writings and artistic achievements, in the form of highly developed sculpture and architecture, originate from that period. Nearly all archaeological remains in the Maldives are from Buddhist stupas and monasteries, and all artifacts found to date display characteristic Buddhist iconography.

Buddhist (and Hindu) temples were Mandala shaped. They are oriented according to the four cardinal points with the main gate facing east. Local historian Hassan Ahmed Maniku counted as many as 59 islands with Buddhist archaeological sites in a provisional list he published in 1990.

Islamic period

The importance of the Arabs as traders in the Indian Ocean by the 12th century may partly explain why the last Buddhist king of Maldives, Dhovemi, converted to Islam in the year 1153 (or 1193). Adopting the Muslim title of Sultan Muhammad al Adil, he initiated a series of six Islamic dynasties that lasted until 1932 when the sultanate became elective. The formal title of the sultan up to 1965 was, Sultan of Land and Sea, Lord of the twelve-thousand islands and Sultan of the Maldives which came with the style Highness .

Somali Muslim Abu'l Barakat al-Barbari, also known as Aw Barkhadle, is traditionally credited for this conversion. According to the story told to Ibn Battutah, a mosque was built with the inscription: 'The Sultan Ahmad Shanurazah accepted Islam at the hand of Abu'l Barakat al-Barbari.' [30] [31] Some scholars have suggested the possibility of Ibn Battuta misreading Maldive texts, and having a bias towards the North African, Maghrebi narrative of this Shaykh, instead of the East African origins account that was known as well at the time. [32] Even when Ibn Battuta visited the islands, the governor of the island at that time was Abd Aziz Al Mogadishawi, a Somali [33]

Scholars have posited another scenario where this Abu Barakat might have been a native of Barbera, a significant trading port on the northwestern coast of Somalia. [34] Barbara or Barbaroi (Berbers), as the ancestors of the Somalis were referred to by medieval Arab and ancient Greek geographers, respectively. [35] [36] [37] This is also seen when Ibn Batuta visited Mogadishu, he mentions that the Sultan at that time, "Abu Bakr ibn Shaikh Omar", was a Berber (Somali). According to scholars, Abu Barakat Al Barbari was Yusuf bin Ahmad al-Kawneyn, a famous native Somali scholar [38] known for establishing the Walashma dynasty of the Horn of Africa. [39] After his conversion of the population of Dogor (now known as Aw Barkhadle), a town in Somalia, he is also credited to have been responsible for spreading Islam in the Maldivian islands, establishing the Hukuru Miskiiy Mosque, and converting the Maldivian population to Islam. [40] [41] Ibn Batuta states the Maldivian king was converted by Abu Al Barakat Al Berber (Blessed Father of Somalia). [42]

Others have it he may have been from the Persian town of Tabriz. [43] The first reference to an Iranian origin dates to an 18th-century Persian text. [44]

His venerated tomb now stands on the grounds of Hukuru Mosque, or miski, in the capital of Malé. Built in 1656, this is the oldest mosque in Maldives. Following the Islamic concept that before Islam there was the time of Jahiliya (ignorance), in the history books used by Maldivians the introduction of Islam at the end of the 12th century is considered the cornerstone of the country's history.

Compared to the other areas of South Asia, the conversion of the Maldives to Islam happened relatively late. Arab traders had converted populations in the Malabar Coast since the 7th century, and Muhammad Bin Qāsim had converted large swathes of Sindh to Islam at about the same time. The Maldives remained a Buddhist kingdom for another 500 years after the conversion of Malabar Coast and Sindh—perhaps as the southwesternmost Buddhist country. Arabic became the prime language of administration (instead of Persian and Urdu), and the Maliki school of jurisprudence was introduced, both hinting at direct contacts with the core of the Arab world.

Middle Eastern seafarers had just begun to take over the Indian Ocean trade routes in the 10th century and found Maldives to be an important link in those routes as the first landfall for traders from Basra sailing to Southeast Asia. Trade involved mainly cowrie shells—widely used as a form of currency throughout Asia and parts of the East African coast—and coir fiber. The Bengal Sultanate, where cowrie shells were used as legal tender, was one of the principal trading partners of the Maldives. The Bengal–Maldives cowry shell trade was the largest shell currency trade network in history. [45] The other essential product of the Maldives was coir, the fibre of the dried coconut husk, resistant to saltwater. It stitched together and rigged the dhows that plied the Indian Ocean. Maldivian coir was exported to Sindh, China, Yemen, and the Persian Gulf.

Colonial period

16th century Portuguese illustration from the Codice Casanatense, depicting inhabitants of the Maldives. Codice Casanatense Maldivans.jpg
16th century Portuguese illustration from the Códice Casanatense, depicting inhabitants of the Maldives.
18th-century map by Pierre Mortier from the Netherlands, depicting with detail the islands of the Maldives 18th-century Maldives map by Pierre Mortier.jpg
18th-century map by Pierre Mortier from the Netherlands, depicting with detail the islands of the Maldives

In 1558 the Portuguese established a small garrison with a Viador (Viyazoru), or overseer of a factory (trading post) in the Maldives, which they administered from their main colony in Goa. Their attempts to impose Christianity provoked a local revolt led by Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al-Azam and his two brothers, that fifteen years later drove the Portuguese out of Maldives. This event is now commemorated as National Day. In the mid-17th century, the Dutch, who had replaced the Portuguese as the dominant power in Ceylon, established hegemony over Maldivian affairs without involving themselves directly in local matters, which were governed according to centuries-old Islamic customs.

The British expelled the Dutch from Ceylon in 1796 and included Maldives as a British protected area. The status of Maldives as a British protectorate was officially recorded in an 1887 agreement in which the sultan accepted British influence over Maldivian external relations and defence while retaining home rule, which continued to be regulated by Muslim traditional institutions in exchange for an annual tribute. The status of the islands was akin to other British protectorates in the Indian Ocean region, including Zanzibar and the Trucial States.

In the British period,the Sultan's powers were taken over by the Chief Minister, much to the chagrin of the British Governor-General who continued to deal with the ineffectual Sultan. Consequently, Britain encouraged the development of a constitutional monarchy, and the first Constitution was proclaimed in 1932. However, the new arrangements favoured neither the aging Sultan nor the wily Chief Minister, but rather a young crop of British-educated reformists. As a result, angry mobs were instigated against the Constitution which was publicly torn up.

Maldives remained a British crown protectorate until 1953 when the sultanate was suspended and the First Republic was declared under the short-lived presidency of Muhammad Amin Didi. While serving as prime minister during the 1940s, Didi nationalized the fish export industry. As president, he is remembered as a reformer of the education system and a promoter of women's rights. Conservatives in Malé eventually ousted his government, and during a riot over food shortages, Didi was beaten by a mob and died on a nearby island.

An RAF Short Sunderland moored in the lagoon at Addu Atoll, during WWII Royal Air Force Operations in the Far East, 1941-1945 CF620.jpg
An RAF Short Sunderland moored in the lagoon at Addu Atoll, during WWII

Beginning in the 1950s, the political history in Maldives was largely influenced by the British military presence in the islands. In 1954 the restoration of the sultanate perpetuated the rule of the past. Two years later, the United Kingdom obtained permission to reestablish its wartime RAF Gan airfield in the southernmost Addu Atoll, employing hundreds of locals. In 1957, however, the new prime minister, Ibrahim Nasir, called for a review of the agreement. Nasir was challenged in 1959 by a local secessionist movement in the three southernmost atolls that benefited economically from the British presence on Gan. This group cut ties with the Maldives government and formed an independent state, the United Suvadive Republic with Abdullah Afif as president and Hithadhoo as capital. One year later the Suvadive republic was scrapped after Nasir sent gunboats from Malé with government police, and Abdulla Afif went into exile. Meanwhile, in 1960 the Maldives had allowed the United Kingdom to continue to use both the Gan and the Hitaddu facilities for a thirty-year period, with the payment of £750,000 over the period of 1960 to 1965 for the purpose of Maldives' economic development. The base was closed in 1976 as part of the larger British withdrawal of permanently-stationed forces 'East of Suez'. [46]

Independence and republic

Flag of the Sultan of the Maldives Flag of the Sultan of the Maldives.png
Flag of the Sultan of the Maldives

In line with the broader British policy of decolonisation, on 26 July 1965 an agreement was signed on behalf of the Sultan by Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefan, Prime Minister, and on behalf of the British government by Sir Michael Walker, British Ambassador designate to the Maldive Islands, which ended the British responsibility for the defence and external affairs of the Maldives. The islands thus achieved full political independence, with the ceremony taking place at the British High Commissioner's Residence in Colombo. After this, the sultanate continued for another three years under Sir Muhammad Fareed Didi, who declared himself King upon independence.

On 15 November 1967, a vote was taken in parliament to decide whether the Maldives should continue as a constitutional monarchy or become a republic. Of the 44 members of parliament, 40 voted in favour of a republic. On 15 March 1968, a national referendum was held on the question, and 93.34% of those taking part voted in favour of establishing a republic. The republic was declared on 11 November 1968, thus ending the 853-year-old monarchy, which was replaced by a republic under the presidency of Ibrahim Nasir. As the King had held little real power, this was seen as a cosmetic change and required few alterations in the structures of government.

Tourism began to be developed on the archipelago by the beginning of the 1970s. The first resort in the Maldives was Kurumba Maldives which welcomed the first guests on 3 October 1972. The first accurate census was held in December 1977 and showed 142,832 persons residing in Maldives. [47] Political infighting during the '70s between Nasir's faction and other political figures led to the 1975 arrest and exile of elected prime minister Ahmed Zaki to a remote atoll. Economic decline followed the closure of the British airfield at Gan and the collapse of the market for dried fish, an important export. With support for his administration faltering, Nasir fled to Singapore in 1978, with millions of dollars from the treasury.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom began his 30-year role as president in 1978, winning six consecutive elections without opposition. His election was seen as ushering in a period of political stability and economic development in view of Gayoom's priority to develop the poorer islands. Tourism flourished and increased foreign contact spurred development. However, Gayoom's rule was controversial, with some critics saying Gayoom was an autocrat who quelled dissent by limiting freedoms and political favouritism. [48]

A series of coup attempts (in 1980, 1983, and 1988) by Nasir supporters and business interests tried to topple the government without success. While the first two attempts met with little success, the 1988 coup attempt involved a roughly 80-person mercenary force of the PLOTE who seized the airport and caused Gayoom to flee from house to house until the intervention of 1600 Indian troops airlifted into Malé restored order.

A November 1988 coup was headed by Muhammadu Ibrahim Lutfee, a small-businessman. On the night of 3 November 1988, the Indian Air Force airlifted a parachute battalion group from Agra and flew them over 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) to the Maldives. The Indian paratroopers landed at Hulule and secured the airfield and restored the government rule at Malé within hours. The brief operation, labelled Operation Cactus , also involved the Indian Navy.

21st century

17th SAARC summit in Addu City, Maldives The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh along with other Head of State and Government of SAARC Countries, at the inaugural session of the 17th SAARC Summit, at Adu Atoll in Maldives on November 10, 2011.jpg
17th SAARC summit in Addu City, Maldives

On 26 December 2004, following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, the Maldives were devastated by a tsunami. Only nine islands were reported to have escaped any flooding, [49] [50] while fifty-seven islands faced serious damage to critical infrastructure, fourteen islands had to be totally evacuated, and six islands were destroyed. A further twenty-one resort islands were forced to close because of tsunami damage. The total damage was estimated at more than US$400 million, or some 62% of the GDP. [51] [52] 102 Maldivians and 6 foreigners reportedly died in the tsunami. [48] The destructive impact of the waves on the low-lying islands was mitigated by the fact there was no continental shelf or land mass upon which the waves could gain height. The tallest waves were reported to be 14 feet (4.3 m) high. [53]

Mohamed Nasheed,
President of the Maldives
(2008 - 2012), who was ousted in a coup in 2012 Mohamed Nasheed cropped.jpg
Mohamed Nasheed,
President of the Maldives
(2008 – 2012), who was ousted in a coup in 2012

During the later part of Gayoom's rule, independent political movements emerged in Maldives, which challenged the then-ruling Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (Maldivian People's Party, MPP) and demanded democratic reform. The dissident journalist and activist Mohamed Nasheed founded the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in 2003 and pressured Gayoom into allowing gradual political reforms. [54] In 2008 a new constitution was approved and the first direct presidential elections occurred, which were won by Mohamed Nasheed in the second round. His administration faced many challenges, including the huge debt left by the previous government, the economic downturn following the 2004 tsunami, overspending (by means of overprinting of local currency (the rufiyaa), unemployment, corruption, and increasing drug use. [55] [ unreliable source? ] Taxation on goods was imposed for the first time in the country, and import duties were reduced in many goods and services. Social welfare benefits were given to those aged 65 years or older, single parents, and those with special needs. [48]

Social and political unrest grew in late 2011, following opposition campaigns in the name of protecting Islam. Nasheed controversially resigned from office after large number of police and army mutinied in February 2012. Nasheed's vice president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, was sworn in as president. [56] Nasheed was later arrested, [57] convicted of terrorism, and sentenced to 13 years. The trial was widely seen as flawed and political. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called for Nasheed's immediate release. [58]

The elections in late 2013 were highly contested. Former president Mohammed Nasheed won the most votes in the first round, but the Supreme Court annulled it despite the positive assessment of international election observers. In the re-run vote Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of the former president Gayoom, assumed the presidency. [54] Yameen introduced increased engagement with China, and promoted a policy of connecting Islam with anti-Western rhetoric. [54] Yameen survived an assassination attempt in late 2015. [59] Vice president Ahmed Adeeb was later arrested together with 17 supporters for "public order offences" and the government instituted a broader crackdown against political dissent. A state of emergency was later declared ahead of a planned anti-government rally, [60] and the people's Majlis accelerated the removal of Vice president Ahmed Adeeb. [61] [62]

In 2018 elections Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won most votes, and became President.

Mr. Adeeb was freed by courts in Male in July 2019 after his conviction on charges of terrorism and corruption was overruled, but was under a travel ban placed on him after the State prosecutor appealed the order in a corruption and money laundering case. But he escaped in a tugboat to seek asylum in India. It is understood that the Indian Coast Guard escorted Mr. Adeeb's tugboat to the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) and he was then “transferred” to a Maldivian Coast Guard ship, where officials took him into custody. [63]

Geography

Malhosmadulhu Atoll seen from space. "Fasdutere" and Southern Maalhosmadulhu Atoll can be seen in this picture. Malosmadulu Atolls, Maldives.jpg
Malhosmadulhu Atoll seen from space. "Fasdutere" and Southern Maalhosmadulhu Atoll can be seen in this picture.

The Maldives consists of 1,192 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls, along the north-south direction, spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi), making this one of the world's most dispersed countries. It lies between latitudes 1°S and 8°N, and longitudes 72° and 74°E. The atolls are composed of live coral reefs and sand bars, situated atop a submarine ridge 960 kilometres (600 mi) long that rises abruptly from the depths of the Indian Ocean and runs north to south.

Only near the southern end of this natural coral barricade do two open passages permit safe ship navigation from one side of the Indian Ocean to the other through the territorial waters of Maldives. For administrative purposes, the Maldivian government organised these atolls into 21 administrative divisions. The largest island of Maldives is Gan, which belongs to Laamu Atoll or Hahdhummathi Maldives. In Addu Atoll, the westernmost islands are connected by roads over the reef (collectively called Link Road) and the total length of the road is 14 km (9 mi).

Maldives is the lowest country in the world, with maximum and average natural ground levels of only 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) and 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, respectively. In areas where construction exists, however, this has been increased to several metres. More than 80 per cent of the country's land is composed of coral islands which rise less than one metre above sea level. [64] As a result, the Maldives are at high risk of being submerged due to rising sea levels. The UN's environmental panel has warned that, at current rates, sea level rise would be high enough to make the Maldives uninhabitable by 2100. [65] [66]

Climate

A beach of Bathala island Bathala (Maldives) 8.JPG
A beach of Bathala island

The Maldives has a tropical monsoon climate (Am) under the Köppen climate classification, which is affected by the large landmass of South Asia to the north. Because the Maldives has the lowest elevation of any country in the world, the temperature is constantly hot and often humid. The presence of this landmass causes differential heating of land and water. These factors set off a rush of moisture-rich air from the Indian Ocean over South Asia, resulting in the southwest monsoon. Two seasons dominate Maldives' weather: the dry season associated with the winter northeastern monsoon and the rainy season which brings strong winds and storms.

The shift from the dry northeast monsoon to the moist southwest monsoon occurs during April and May. During this period, the southwest winds contribute to the formation of the southwest monsoon, which reaches Maldives in the beginning of June and lasts until the end of August. However, the weather patterns of Maldives do not always conform to the monsoon patterns of South Asia. The annual rainfall averages 254 centimetres (100 in) in the north and 381 centimetres (150 in) in the south. [67]

The monsoonal influence is greater in the north of the Maldives than in the south, more influenced by the equatorial currents.

Climate data for Malé (1981–2010)
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Average high °C (°F)30.3
(86.5)
30.7
(87.3)
31.4
(88.5)
31.6
(88.9)
31.2
(88.2)
30.6
(87.1)
30.5
(86.9)
30.4
(86.7)
30.2
(86.4)
30.2
(86.4)
30.1
(86.2)
30.1
(86.2)
30.6
(87.1)
Daily mean °C (°F)28.0
(82.4)
28.3
(82.9)
28.9
(84.0)
29.2
(84.6)
28.8
(83.8)
28.3
(82.9)
28.2
(82.8)
28.0
(82.4)
27.8
(82.0)
27.8
(82.0)
27.7
(81.9)
27.8
(82.0)
28.2
(82.8)
Average low °C (°F)25.7
(78.3)
25.9
(78.6)
26.4
(79.5)
26.8
(80.2)
26.3
(79.3)
26.0
(78.8)
25.8
(78.4)
25.5
(77.9)
25.3
(77.5)
25.4
(77.7)
25.2
(77.4)
25.4
(77.7)
25.8
(78.4)
Average rainfall mm (inches)114.2
(4.50)
38.1
(1.50)
73.9
(2.91)
122.5
(4.82)
218.9
(8.62)
167.3
(6.59)
149.9
(5.90)
175.5
(6.91)
199.0
(7.83)
194.2
(7.65)
231.1
(9.10)
216.8
(8.54)
1,901.4
(74.86)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)63591513121315151312131
Average relative humidity (%)78.077.076.978.180.880.779.180.581.081.782.280.979.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 248.4257.8279.6246.8223.2202.3226.6211.5200.4234.8226.1220.72,778.2
Source #1: World Meteorological Organization [68]
Source #2: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990) [69]

Sea level rise

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report predicted the upper limit of the sea level rises will be 59 centimetres (23 in) by 2100, which means that most of the republic's 200 inhabited islands may need to be abandoned. [70] According to researchers from the University of Southampton, the Maldives are the third most endangered nation due to flooding from climate change as a percentage of population. [71]

Former president Mohamed Nasheed has been highly outspoken about this issue, saying in 2012 that "If carbon emissions continue at the rate they are climbing today, my country will be under water in seven years." [72] He has called for more climate change mitigation action while on the American television shows The Daily Show [73] and the Late Show with David Letterman , [72] and hosted "the world's first underwater cabinet meeting" in 2009 to raise awareness of the threats posed by climate change. [74] [75] Concerns over sea level rise have also been expressed by Nasheed's predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. [76]

In 2008, President Mohamed Nasheed announced plans to look into purchasing new land in India, Sri Lanka, and Australia because of his concerns about global warming, and the possibility of much of the islands being inundated with water from rising sea levels. The purchase of land will be made from a fund generated by tourism. The President has explained his intentions: "We do not want to leave the Maldives, but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades". [77]

By 2020, Maldives plans to eliminate or offset all of its greenhouse gas emissions. At the 2009 International Climate Talks, President Mohamed Nasheed explained that:

For us swearing off fossil fuels is not only the right thing to do, it is in our economic self-interest... Pioneering countries will free themselves from the unpredictable price of foreign oil; they will capitalise on the new green economy of the future, and they will enhance their moral standing giving them greater political influence on the world stage. [78]

Environment

Environmental issues other than sea level rise include bad waste disposal and beach theft. Although the Maldives are kept relatively pristine and little litter can be found on the islands, no good waste disposal sites exist. Most trash from Malé and other resorts is simply dumped at Thilafushi. [79]

31 protected areas are administered by the Ministry of Environment and Energy and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the Maldives. [80]

Marine ecosystem

Maldives soft coral Maldives soft coral.jpg
Maldives soft coral
Oriental Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus vittatus) at Meeru Island, North Male Atoll Maldives Oriental sweetlips, Plectorhinchus vittatus.jpg
Oriental Sweetlips (Plectorhinchus vittatus) at Meeru Island, North Male Atoll

The Maldives have a range of different habitats including deep sea, shallow coast, and reef ecosystems, fringing mangroves, wetlands and dry land. There are 187 species of coral forming the coral reefs. This area of the Indian Ocean, alone, houses 1100 species of fish, 5 species of sea turtle, 21 species of whale and dolphin, 400 species of mollusc, and 83 species of echinoderms. The area is also populated by a number of crustacean species: 120 copepod, 15 amphipod, as well as more than 145 crab and 48 shrimp species. [81]

Among the many marine families represented are Pufferfish, Fusiliers, Jackfish, Lionfish, Oriental Sweetlips, reef sharks, Groupers, Eels, Snappers, Bannerfish, Batfish, Humphead Wrasse, Spotted Eagle Rays, Scorpionfish, Lobsters, Nudibranches, Angelfish, Butterflyfish, Squirrelfish, Soldierfish, Glassfish, Surgeonfish, Unicornfish, Triggerfish, Napoleon wrasses, and Barracudas. [82] [83]

These coral reefs are home to a variety of marine ecosystems that vary from planktonic organisms to whale sharks. Sponges have gained importance as five species have displayed anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties. [84]

In 1998, sea-temperature warming of as much as 5 °C (9.0 °F) due to a single El Niño phenomenon event caused coral bleaching, killing two-thirds of the nation's coral reefs. [85]

In an effort to induce the regrowth of the reefs, scientists placed electrified cones anywhere from 20–60 feet (6.1–18.3 m) below the surface to provide a substrate for larval coral attachment. In 2004, scientists witnessed corals regenerating. Corals began to eject pink-orange eggs and sperm. The growth of these electrified corals was five times faster than untreated corals. [85] Scientist Azeez Hakim stated:

before 1998, we never thought that this reef would die. We had always taken for granted that these animals would be there, that this reef would be there forever. El Niño gave us a wake-up call that these things are not going to be there for ever. Not only this, they also act as a natural barrier against the tropical storms, floods and tsunamis. Seaweeds grow on the skeletons of dead coral. [82]

Again, in 2016, the coral reefs of the Maldives experienced a severe bleaching incident. Up to 95% of coral around some islands have died, and, even after six months, 100% of young coral transplants died. The surface water temperatures reached an all-time high in 2016, at 31 degrees Celsius in May. [86]

Recent scientific studies suggest that the faunistic composition can vary greatly between neighbour atolls, especially in terms of benthic fauna. Differences in terms of fishing pressure (including poaching) could be the cause. [87]

Government

Independence Square in Male JumhooreeMaidan.JPG
Independence Square in Malé

Maldives is a presidential republic, with extensive influence of the president as head of government and head of state. The president heads the executive branch, acts at the same time as minister of defence and appoints the cabinet which is approved by the People's Majlis (Parliament). He leads police, army, coast guards, fire brigade and judiciary. There is no separation of powers. The current president as of 17 November 2018 is Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Members of the unicameral Majlis serve five-year terms, with the total number of members determined by atoll populations. At the 2014 election, 77 members were elected. The People's Majlis, located in Male, houses members from all over the country. [3]

The republican constitution came into force in 1968, and was amended in 1970, 1972, and 1975. On 27 November 1997 it was replaced by another Constitution assented to by then President Gayoom. This Constitution came into force on 1 January 1998. All stated that the president was the head of state, head of government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Police of the Maldives.

In 2018, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM-Y)'s tensions with opposition parties and subsequent crackdown was termed as an "assault on democracy" by the UN Human Rights chief. [88]

The Prime Minister of India addressing the People's Majlis in 2011 The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh addressing at the People's Majlis, at Male, in Maldives on November 12, 2011.jpg
The Prime Minister of India addressing the People's Majlis in 2011

Law

According to the Constitution of Maldives, "the judges are independent, and subject only to the Constitution and the law. When deciding matters on which the Constitution or the law is silent, judges must consider Islamic Shari'ah". Article 15 of the Act Number 1/81 (Penal Code) gives provision for hudud punishments. [89] Article 156 of the constitution states that law includes the norms and provisions of sharia. [90]

Islam is the official religion of the Maldives and open practice of any other religion is forbidden. [91] The 2008 constitution says that the republic "is based on the principles of Islam" and that "no law contrary to any principle of Islam can be applied". Non-Muslims are prohibited from becoming citizens. [92]

The requirement to adhere to a particular religion and prohibition of public worship following other religions is contrary to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Maldives has recently become party [93] and was addressed in Maldives' reservation in adhering to the Covenant claiming that "The application of the principles set out in Article 18 of the Covenant shall be without prejudice to the Constitution of the Republic of the Maldives." [94]

Foreign relations

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosts Maldivian foreign minister Abdulla Shahid Secretary Pompeo Meets With Maldives Foreign Minister Shahid in Washington (32217203777).jpg
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosts Maldivian foreign minister Abdulla Shahid

Since 1996, the Maldives has been the official progress monitor of the Indian Ocean Commission. In 2002, the Maldives began to express interest in the commission but as of 2008 had not applied for membership. Maldives' interest relates to its identity as a small island state, especially economic development and environmental preservation, and its desire for closer relations with France, a main actor in the IOC region.

The Maldives is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The republic joined the Commonwealth in 1982, some 17 years after gaining independence from the United Kingdom. In October 2016, Maldives announced its withdrawal from the Commonwealth [95] in protest at allegations of human rights abuse and failing democracy. [96] The Maldives enjoys close ties with Commonwealth members Seychelles and Mauritius. The Maldives and Comoros are also both members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his Cabinet has decided that the Maldives will be returning to its status as a Commonwealth republic. [97]

Military

Fire & Rescue Service boats Maldives-vaixells de bombers.jpg
Fire & Rescue Service boats

The Maldives National Defence Force is the combined security organisation responsible for defending the security and sovereignty of the Maldives, having the primary task of being responsible for attending to all internal and external security needs of the Maldives, including the protection of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and the maintenance of peace and security. The MNDF component branches are the Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Special Forces, Service Corps and the Corps of Engineers.

As a water-bound nation much of the security concerns lie at sea. Almost 99% of the country is covered by sea and the remaining 1% land is scattered over an area of 800 km (497 mi) × 120 km (75 mi), with the largest island being not more than 8 km2 (3 sq mi). Therefore, the duties assigned to the MNDF of maintaining surveillance over Maldives' waters and providing protection against foreign intruders poaching in the EEZ and territorial waters, are immense tasks from both logistical and economic viewpoints. In 2019, Maldives signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. [98]

The Coast Guard plays a vital role in carrying out these functions. To provide timely security its patrol boats are stationed at various MNDF Regional Headquarters. The Coast Guard is also assigned to respond to the maritime distress calls and to conduct search and rescue operations in a timely manner. Maritime pollution control exercises are conducted regularly on an annual basis for familiarisation and handling of such hazardous situations.

Human rights

Human rights in the Maldives is a contentious issue. In its 2011 Freedom in the World report, Freedom House declared the Maldives "Partly Free", claiming a reform process which had made headway in 2009 and 2010 had stalled. [99] The United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor claims in their 2012 report on human rights practices in the country that the most significant problems are corruption, lack of religious freedom, and abuse and unequal treatment of women. [100]

In February 2013, the court sentenced a 15-year-old rape victim to 100 lashes and 8 months of house arrest for having had extra-marital relations. The conviction was based on the confession of the girl shortly after being raped by her stepfather. [101] Same-sex relations are illegal in the Maldives. [102]

Administrative divisions

Each administrative atoll is marked, along with the thaana letter used to identify the atoll. Natural atolls are labelled in light blue. Full view of the map. Atolls of the maldives.png
Each administrative atoll is marked, along with the thaana letter used to identify the atoll. Natural atolls are labelled in light blue. Full view of the map.

The Maldives has twenty-six natural atolls and few island groups on isolated reefs, all of which have been divided into twenty-one administrative divisions (19 administrative atolls and cities of Malé and Addu). [103]

Each atoll is administered by an elected Atoll Council. The islands are administered by an elected Island Council.

Between 2008 and 2010 the Maldives had 7 provinces each consisting of the following administrative divisions (the capital Malé is its own administrative division):

  1. Mathi-Uthuru Province; consists of Haa Alif Atoll, Haa Dhaalu Atoll and Shaviyani Atoll.
  2. Uthuru Province; consists of Noonu Atoll, Raa Atoll, Baa Atoll and Lhaviyani Atoll.
  3. Medhu-Uthuru Province; consists of Kaafu Atoll, Alifu Alifu Atoll, Alifu Dhaalu Atoll and Vaavu Atoll.
  4. Medhu Province; consists of Meemu Atoll, Faafu Atoll and Dhaalu Atoll.
  5. Medhu-Dhekunu Province; consists of Thaa Atoll and Laamu Atoll.
  6. Mathi-Dhekunu Province; consists of Gaafu Alifu Atoll and Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.
  7. Dhekunu Province; consists of Gnaviyani Atoll and Addu City.

In addition to a name, every administrative division is identified by the Maldivian code letters, such as "Haa Alif" for Thiladhunmati Uthuruburi (Thiladhunmathi North); and by a Latin code letter. The first corresponds to the geographical Maldivian name of the atoll; the second is a code adopted for convenience. As there are certain islands in different atolls that have the same name, for administrative purposes this code is quoted before the name of the island, for example: Baa Funadhoo, Kaafu Funadhoo, Gaafu-Alifu Funadhoo. Since most Atolls have very long geographical names it is also used whenever the long name is inconvenient, for example in the atoll website names. [104]

The introduction of code-letter names has been a source of much puzzlement and misunderstandings, especially among foreigners. Many people have come to think that the code-letter of the administrative atoll is its new name and that it has replaced its geographical name. Under such circumstances it is hard to know which is the correct name to use. [104]

Economy

Male harbour The western side (382669110).jpg
Malé harbour
Graphical depiction of Maldives's product exports in 28 color-coded categories Maldives treemap.png
Graphical depiction of Maldives's product exports in 28 color-coded categories

Historically, Maldives provided enormous quantities of cowry shells, an international currency of the early ages. From the 2nd century AD the islands were known as the 'Money Isles' by the Arabs. [105] Monetaria moneta were used for centuries as a currency in Africa, and huge amounts of Maldivian cowries were introduced into Africa by western nations during the period of slave trade. [106] The cowry is now the symbol of the Maldives Monetary Authority.

In the early 1970s, Maldives was one of the world's 20 poorest countries, with a population of 100,000. The economy at the time was largely dependent on fisheries and trading local goods such as coir rope, ambergris (Maavaharu), and coco de mer (Tavakkaashi) with neighboring countries and East Asian countries.

The Maldivian government began a largely successful economic reform programme in the 1980s, initiated by lifting import quotas and giving more opportunities to the private sector. At the time tourism sector which would play a significant role in the nation's development at its infant stage.

Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play lesser roles in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labour.

Tourism

Filitheyo island beach with tall palm trees and blue fresh lagoons Filitheyo bar.jpg
Filitheyo island beach with tall palm trees and blue fresh lagoons

The Maldives remained largely unknown to tourists until the early 1970s. Only 185 islands are home to its 447,137 inhabitants. The other islands are used entirely for economic purposes, of which tourism and agriculture are the most dominant. Tourism accounts for 28% of the 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.

The development of tourism fostered the overall growth of the country's economy. It created direct and indirect employment and income generation opportunities in other related industries. The first tourist resorts were opened in 1972 with Bandos Island Resort and Kurumba Village (the current name is Kurumba Maldives), [107] which transformed the Maldives economy.

The resort island of Landaa Giraavaru (Baa atoll) Landaa Giraavaru vue du ciel.JPG
The resort island of Landaa Giraavaru (Baa atoll)

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the emergence of tourism in 1972 transformed the economy, moving rapidly from dependence on fisheries to tourism. In just three and a half decades, the industry became the main source of income. Tourism was also the country's biggest foreign currency earner and the single largest contributor to the GDP. As of 2008, 89 resorts in the Maldives offered over 17,000 beds and hosted over 600,000 tourists annually. [108] In 2017 over 1.4 million visitors came to the islands [109]

The number of resorts increased from 2 to 92 between 1972 and 2007. As of 2007, over 8,380,000 tourists had visited Maldives. [110]

Visitors to the Maldives do not need to apply for a visa pre-arrival, regardless of their country of origin, provided they have a valid passport, proof of onward travel, and the money to be self-sufficient while in the country. [111]

Most visitors arrive at Malé International Airport, on Hulhulé Island, adjacent to the capital Malé. The airport is served by flights to and from India, Sri Lanka, Doha, Dubai, Singapore, Istanbul, and major airports in South-East Asia, as well as charters from Europe. Gan Airport, on the southern atoll of Addu, also serves an international flight to Milan several times a week. British Airways offers direct flights to the Maldives around 2–3 times per week.

The country currently has six heritage Maldivian coral mosques, all of which are listed as UNESCO tentative sites. [112]

Fishing industry

A mechanised traditional inter-island dhoni stripped of its sails Doni aux Maldives cropped.jpg
A mechanised traditional inter-island dhoni stripped of its sails

For many centuries the Maldivian economy was entirely dependent on fishing and other marine products. Fishing remains the main occupation of the people and the government gives priority to the fisheries sector.

The mechanisation of the traditional fishing boat called dhoni in 1974 was a major milestone in the development of the fisheries industry. A fish canning plant was installed on Felivaru in 1977, as a joint venture with a Japanese firm. In 1979, a Fisheries Advisory Board was set up with the mandate of advising the government on policy guidelines for the overall development of the fisheries sector. Manpower development programmes began in the early 1980s, and fisheries education was incorporated into the school curriculum. Fish aggregating devices and navigational aids were located at various strategic points. Moreover, the opening up of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Maldives for fisheries has further enhanced the growth of the fisheries sector.

As of 2010, fisheries contributed over 15% of the country's GDP and engaged about 30% of the country's work force. Fisheries were also the second-largest foreign exchange earner after tourism.

Demographics

Male, the capital of the Maldives Male-total.jpg
Malé, the capital of the Maldives
Demographics of the Maldives, from 2000 to 2012 Population estimates of Maldives.png
Demographics of the Maldives, from 2000 to 2012
Population [113]
YearThousands
195074
1975136
2000279
2015455

The largest ethnic group are Dhivehis, i.e. the Maldivians, native to the historic region of the Maldive Islands comprising today's Republic of Maldives and the island of Minicoy in Union territory of Lakshadweep, India. They share the same culture and speak the Dhivehi language. They are principally an Indo-Aryan people, having traces of Middle Eastern, South Asian, Austronesian and African genes in the population.

In the past there was also a small Tamil population known as the Giraavaru people. This group have now been almost completely absorbed into the larger Maldivian society but were once native to the island of Giraavaru (Kaafu Atoll).[ citation needed ] This island was evacuated in 1968 due to heavy erosion of the island.

Some social stratification exists on the islands. It is not rigid, since rank is based on varied factors, including occupation, wealth, Islamic virtue, and family ties. Instead of a complex caste system, there was merely a distinction between noble (bēfulhu) and common people in the Maldives. Members of the social elite are concentrated in Malé.

The population doubled by 1978, and the population growth rate peaked at 3.4% in 1985. At the 2006 census, the population had reached 298,968, [114] although the census in 2000 showed that the population growth rate had declined to 1.9%. Life expectancy at birth stood at 46 years in 1978, and later rose to 72. Infant mortality has declined from 12.7% in 1977 to 1.2% today, and adult literacy reached 99%. Combined school enrolment reached the high 90s. The population was projected to have reached 317,280 in 2010. [115]

The 2014 Population and Housing Census listed the total population in Maldives as 402,071: 338,434 resident Maldivians and 63,637 resident foreigners, approximately 16% of the total population. However, it is believed that foreigners have been undercounted. [116] There are 40,000 Bangladeshis in the Maldives, making them the largest group of foreigners working in that country. [117] Other immigrants include Filipinos in the Maldives as well as various Western foreign workers.

Religion

Maldives religions (2010) [118]
Islam
99%
others
1%
Mosque in Hulhumale Mosque of Hulhumale.jpg
Mosque in Hulhumalé

After the long Buddhist [119] period of Maldivian history, Muslim traders introduced Islam. Maldivians converted to Islam by the mid-12th century. The islands have had a long history of Sufic orders, as can be seen in the history of the country such as the building of tombs. They were used until as recently as the 1980s for seeking the help of buried saints. They can be seen next to some old mosques and are considered a part of Maldives's cultural heritage.

Other aspects of tassawuf, such as ritualised dhikr ceremonies called Maulūdu (Mawlid)—the liturgy of which included recitations and certain supplications in a melodical tone—existed until very recent times. These Maulūdu festivals were held in ornate tents specially built for the occasion. At present Islam is the official religion of the entire population, as adherence to it is required for citizenship.

According to Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta, the person responsible for this conversion was a Sunni Muslim visitor named Abu al-Barakat al-Barbari, sailing from Morocco. He is also referred to as Tabrizugefaanu. His venerated tomb now stands on the grounds of the Friday Mosque, or Hukuru Miskiy, in Malé. Built in 1656, this is the country's oldest mosque.

Languages

Thaana script Dhivehiscript.svg
Thaana script

The official and common language is Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan language closely related to the Sinhala language of Sri Lanka. The first known script used to write Dhivehi is the eveyla akuru script, which is found in historical recording of kings (raadhavalhi). Later a script called dhives akuru was used for a long period. The present-day script is called Thaana and is written from right to left. Thaana is said to have been introduced by the reign of Mohamed Thakurufaanu.

English is widely spoken by the locals of the Maldives. [120] Following the nation's opening to the outside world, the introduction of English as a medium of instruction at secondary and tertiary level of education, and its government's recognition of the opportunities offered through tourism, English has now firmly established itself in the country. As such, the Maldives are quite similar to the countries in the Gulf region (cf. Randall & Samimi, 2010; Boyle, 2012). The nation is undergoing vast societal change, and English is part of this. [121]

Population by locality

Culture

Maahefun Festival in Fuvahmulah Maahefun Fuvahmulah.JPG
Maahefun Festival in Fuvahmulah

Since the 12th century AD there were also influences from Arabia in the language and culture of the Maldives because of the conversion to Islam and its location as a crossroads in the central Indian Ocean. This was due to the long trading history between the far east and the middle east. However, unlike the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka and most of the Arabs, Africans and Europeans whose influence can be seen in loanwords, material culture, and the diversity of Maldivian phenotype, Maldivians do not have the highly embedded patriarchal codes of honour, purity, corporate marriage, and sedentary private property that are typical of places where agriculture is the key form of subsistence and social relations have been built, historically, around tribute taking.[ citation needed ]

Reflective of this is the fact that the Maldives has had the highest national divorce rate in the world for many decades. This, it is hypothesised, is due to a combination of liberal Islamic rules about divorce and the relatively loose marital bonds that have been identified as common in non- and semi-sedentary peoples without a history of fully developed agrarian property and kinship relations. [122]

Transportation

TMA Terminal TMA Terminal.JPG
TMA Terminal

Velana International Airport is the principal gateway to the Maldives. International travel is available on a number of major airlines. Two Maldives based airlines also operate international flights. Privately owned MEGA Maldives Airlines has Boeing 737 and 767 aircraft and operates frequent services to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Government owned Island Aviation Services (branded as Maldivian) operates to nearly all Maldives domestic airports with several Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft and one A320 with international service to Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram, India, and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In Maldives there are three main ways to travel between islands: by domestic flight, by seaplane or by boat. [123] For several years there were two seaplane companies operating: TMA (Trans Maldivian Airways) and Maldivian Air Taxi, but these merged in 2013 under the name TMA. The seaplane fleet is entirely made up of DHC-6 Twin Otters. There is also another airline, Flyme, which operates using ATR planes to domestic airports, principally Maamagili and some others. The typical Maldivian boat is called a dhoni. Depending on the distance of the destination island from the airport, resorts organise domestic flight plus boat transfers, seaplane flights directly to the resort island jetty, or speedboat trips for their guests. There are also locally run ferries using large dhoni boats. Speedboats and seaplanes tend to be more expensive, while travel by dhoni, although slower, is relatively cheaper and convenient.

Education

The Maldives National University is one of the country's three institutions of higher education. Its mission statement is as follows:

To create, discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge that are necessary to enhance the lives and livelihoods of people and essential for the cultural, social and economic development of the society so that this nation shall remain free and Islamic forever. [124]

In 1973, the Allied Health Services Training Centre (the forerunner of the Faculty of Health Sciences) was established by the Ministry of Health. The Vocational Training Centre was established in 1974, providing training for mechanical and electrical trades. In 1984, the Institute for Teacher Education was created and the School of Hotel and Catering Services was established in 1987 to provide trained personnel for the tourist industry. In 1991, the Institute of Management and Administration was created to train staff for public and private services. In 1998, the Maldives College of Higher Education was founded. The Institute of Shar'ah and Law was founded in January 1999. In 2000 the college launched its first degree programme: Bachelor of Arts. On 17 January 2011 the Maldives National University Act was passed by the President of the Maldives; The Maldives National University was named on 15 February 2011. [124]

See also

Related Research Articles

History of the Maldives aspect of history

The history of the Maldives is intertwined with the history of the broader Indian subcontinent and the surrounding regions, comprising the areas of South Asia and Indian Ocean; and the modern nation consisting of 28 natural atolls, comprising 1194 islands. Historically, the Maldives had a strategic importance because of its location on the major marine routes of the Indian Ocean. The Maldives' nearest neighbours are Sri Lanka and India, both of which have had cultural and economic ties with Maldives for centuries. The Maldives provided the main source of cowrie shells, then used as a currency throughout Asia and parts of the East African coast. Most probably Maldives were influenced by Kalingas of ancient India who were earliest sea traders to Sri Lanka and Maldives from India and were responsible for the spread of Buddhism. Hence ancient Hindu culture has an indelible impact on Maldives' local culture.

The politics of the Maldives, as per the reports, take place in the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President is the Head of Government. Executive power is exercised by the government. The President heads the executive branch and appoints the Cabinet; Like many presidential democracies, each member of the cabinet need to be approved by the Parliament. The President, along with the Vice President, are indirectly as well as directly elected by the denizens to a five-year term by a secret ballot. He could be re-elected to second 5-year term, the limit allowed by the Constitution. The current President of the Maldives is Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who was sworn into office on November 17, 2018 when his predecessor, Abdulla Yameen, following his own predecessor Mohamed Nasheed's forced resignation in a coup led by the police. Nasheed reportedly resigned involuntarily to forestall an escalation of violence, and was placed in jail, before being forced into exile.

Malé City in North Malé Atoll, Maldives

Malé is the capital and most populous city in the Republic of Maldives. With a population of 133,412 and an area of 9.27 square kilometres (3.58 sq mi), it is also one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The city is geographically located at the southern edge of North Malé Atoll. Administratively, the city consists of a central island, an airport island, and two other islands governed by the Malé City Council.

Ibrahim Nasir Maldivian politician, 2nd president of the Maldives

Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefan, KCMG, NGIV was a Maldivian politician who served as Prime Minister of the Maldives under Sultan Muhammad Fareed Didi from December 1957 to 1968 and succeeded him to become the first President of the Second Republic from 1968 to 1978.

Atolls of the Maldives physical geographic entity

The Maldives are formed by a number of natural atolls plus atolls in the form of a few islands and isolated reefs today which form a pattern stretching from 7 degrees 10′ North to 0 degrees 45′ South.

Islam in the Maldives Islam state Religion

Islam is the major religion, and the most widespread religion of the Maldives. It is also the official religion of Maldives.

Minicoy island

Minicoy, locally known as Maliku[məliku]; is an island in Lakshadweep, India. Along with Viringili, it is on Maliku atoll, the southernmost atoll of Lakshadweep archipelago. Administratively, it is a census town in the Indian union territory of Lakshadweep.

Vaavu Atoll atoll of the Maldives

Vaavu Atoll is an administrative division of the Maldives comprising the natural atolls of Felidhu Atoll and the Vattaru Reef.

Gan (Dhivehi: is one of the inhabited islands of Haddhunmathi Atoll, administrative code Laamu and the proposed capital for the Mathi-Dhekunu Province of the Maldives.

Kaashidhoo (Kaafu Atoll) Inhabited island in Maldives

Kaashidhoo is one of the inhabited islands of Kaafu Atoll.

Kudafari is one of the inhabited islands of Noonu Atoll.

Makunudhoo is one of the inhabited islands of Haa Dhaalu Atoll administrative division and geographically part of Māmakunudhoo Atoll in the north of the Maldives. It is the westernmost inhabited island in the Maldives.

Mohamed Nasheed Maldivian politician, 4th president of the second republic of Maldives

Mohamed Nasheed, GCSK is a Maldivian politician, who served as the fourth President of the Maldives from 2008 to 2012. He was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives and one of the founders of the Maldivian Democratic Party.

The 2005 Maldivian civil unrest refers to the civil unrest that broke out in Malé, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and Addu Atoll of the Maldives on August 12, 2005 which led to events that supported the democratic reform of the country. This unrest was provoked by the arrest of Mohamed Nasheed - an open critic of the president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom - and the subsequent demolition of the Dhunfini tent, used by the members of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for their gatherings. Supporters of MDP were quick to demonstrate. They started calling for the resignation of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, soon after Nasheed's arrest. Several arrests were made on the first night followed by the demolition of the Dhunfini tent. The demolition complicated the situation further provoking the unrest. The unrest grew violent on the third night, on August 14, 2005, due to the methods used in the attempts by the authority to stop the demonstration.

The first king of the Maldivian Hilaalee dynasty was Hassan I of the Maldives and he Was proclaimed king in the year 1388 AD. Hilali dynasty was a Somali Dynasty. Some historical writing and some folklores reveal that this Dynasty is from Somali descent. It seems they were travellers and traders of Ajuran Empire where they established a colony in Maldive islands. They settled in Hlhule' in Male' atoll. Some historical documents reveal that Hilali Kalo Hassan dethroned King Uthman Rasgefaan, who was the ruling King at that time and outcast him and all his ministers. After this Hilai Kalo Hassan started the Hilai Dynasty. The Hilaalee dynasty was a sub-dynasty of Garen Dynasty.

Several Dhivehi scripts have been used by Maldivians during their history. The early Dhivehi scripts fell into the abugida category, while the more recent Thaana has characteristics of both an abugida and a true alphabet. An ancient form of Nagari script, as well as the Arabic and Latin scripts, have also been extensively used in the Maldives, but with a more restricted function. Latin was official only during a very brief period of the Islands' history.

Outline of Maldives Overview of and topical guide to Maldives

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Maldives:

India–Maldives relations Diplomatic relations between the Republic of India and the Republic of Maldives

India–Maldives relations refer to the bilateral relations between India and Maldives. Relations have been friendly and close in strategic, economic and military cooperation. India contributed to maintaining security on the island nation.

Dhuvaafaru is an inhabited island of Maldives located in the eastern edge of Raa Atoll. Resettlement of the island started on 14 December 2008 to inhabit the displaced residents of Kandholhudhoo who were the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Maldivian diaspora

The Maldivian diaspora refers to the community of Maldivians, speakers of the Maldivian language, who have either emigrated from the Republic of Maldives or grew up outside of the Maldives speaking Dhivehi as a first language. The Republic of Maldives is a South Asian country geographically located in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. Maldivians have historically emigrated from the Maldives for numerous reasons including low economic opportunity, political repression, environmental instability, and education. India and Sri Lanka currently host the most Maldivians living outside of the Maldives, but other diaspora communities can be found in Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, and Australia.

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Further reading

Coordinates: 3°12′N73°13′E / 3.20°N 73.22°E / 3.20; 73.22