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