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The Republic of Maldives is an archipelago of 1,192 small coral islands in the Indian Ocean, out of which 199 are inhabited. The total area including land and inland sea is about 90,000 sq. km. The length of the archipelago is 850km while it is 130km at its greatest width. There are 26 natural atolls, but for easy administration they are divided into 20 administrative units. The islands are low lying, with an average elevation of 1.6 m above mean sea level. The nearest neighbours are India and Sri Lanka, situated about 600km and 670km to the north and east respectively.

Special Features

The Maldives is threatened by possible sea-rise as a result of global warming.

Political System

The islands were under British protection from 1867 until complete independence was achieved on July 26, 1965. The Maldives became a republic on November 11, 1968. There is a Citizens' Majlis (Parliament) which consists of 48 members, eight of whom are nominated by the President and 40 directly elected (2 each from Male and the 19 administrative districts) for a term of five years. There are no political parties.

The Constitution is based on the Sharia.

Head of the State and Government

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom


Tourism is the largest foreign exchange earner. Tourist arrivals increased from 83,814 in 1984 to 460,984 in 2001. The huge number of visitors from the emerging economies of Asia has more than offset the decrease in arrivals from Europe due to recession.

(Source: FISB, Ministry of Trade and Industries, Government of Maldives)

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