Maldives country profile

map of the Maldives
map of the Maldives

The Maldives is a republic lies south-west of the Indian sub-continent. It is made up of a chain of nearly 1,200 islands, most of them uninhabited.

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

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

Its political history has been unsettled since the electoral defeat of long-serving President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2008.

REPUBLIC OF MALDIVES: FACTS

  • Capital: Male

  • Area: 300 sq km

  • Population: 392,000

  • Languages: Dhivehi, English

  • Life expectancy: 77 years (men) 81 years (women)

LEADER

President: Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih
Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

Opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the September 2018 election, ousting President Abdulla Yameen in a surprise result.

Mr Solih's Maldivian Democratic Party favours relations with India, while the authoritarian Mr Yameen had welcomed Chinese investment.

President Solih has taken the Maldives back into the Commonwealth, and his party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in 2019.

Tourists pose for pictures at the Velana International Airport in Male on July 14, 2022.
Tourists pose for pictures at the Velana International Airport in Male on July 14, 2022.

MEDIA

Non-state media report coming under pressure, and Reporters Without Borders says journalists operate in a climate of violence and impunity.

A 2016 law criminalised defamation, allowing the authorities to punish media for content deemed defamatory.

TIMELINE

Road bridge from Male to the airport
A road bridge has been built to connect the capital with the airport island of Hulhule

12th Century - Islam introduced.

1558-1573 - Portuguese occupation, which ends after expulsion by locals.

17th Century - Islands become a protectorate first of the Dutch rulers of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and later of the British, who take control of Ceylon in 1796.

1887 - Status formalised as internally self-governing British protectorate.

1965 - Full independence as a sultanate outside Commonwealth.

1968 - Sultan deposed after referendum, Ibrahim Nasir becomes president.

1978 - Nasir retires, replaced by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

1980s - Development of tourist industry fuels economic growth.

2008 - Opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed defeats President Gayoom in elections.

2012 -President Mohamed Nasheed is ousted in a coup.

2018 - Opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih defeats President Abdulla Yameen in a surprise result.

A view of a boat shaped structure in the Maldives, which is one of the countries most threatened by the sea level increase due to global warming
The Maldives is one of the countries most threatened by the sea level rises due to global warming