Maldives

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Maldives
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Maldives
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Map of Maldives
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Photos of Maldives
 
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OF MALDIVES
 

Introduction

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Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM dominated the islands' political scene for 30 years, elected to six successive terms by single-party referendums. Following riots in the capital Male in August 2004, the president and his government pledged to embark upon democratic reforms including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Progress was sluggish, however, and many promised reforms were slow to be realized. Nonetheless, political parties were legalized in 2005. In June 2008, a constituent assembly - termed the "Special Majlis" - finalized a new constitution, which was ratified by the president in August. The first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system were held in October 2008. GAYOOM was defeated in a runoff poll by Mohamed NASHEED, a political activist who had been jailed several years earlier by the former regime. Challenges facing President NASHEED include strengthening democracy and combating poverty and drug abuse. Maldives officials have played a prominent role in the international climate change discussion (due to the islands' low elevation and the threat from sea-level rise) and on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
 
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Geography

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Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India
 
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3 15 N, 73 00 E
 
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total: 298 sq km
country comparison to the world: 210
land: 298 sq km
water: 0 sq km
 
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about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC
 
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0 km
 
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644 km
 
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measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
 
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tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)
 
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flat, with white sandy beaches
 
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lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed location on Viligili in the Addu Atholhu 2.4 m
 
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fish
 
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arable land: 13.33%
permanent crops: 30%
other: 56.67% (2005)
 
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NA
 
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0.03 cu km (1999)
 
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total: 0.003 cu km/yr (98%/2%/0%)
per capita: 9 cu m/yr (1987)
 
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tsunamis; low elevation of islands makes them sensitive to sea level rise
 
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depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching
 
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party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
 
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1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls (200 inhabited islands, plus 80 islands with tourist resorts); archipelago with strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean
 
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People and Society

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noun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian
 
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South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs
 
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Dhivehi (official, dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English (spoken by most government officials)
 
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Sunni Muslim (official)
 
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394,999 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
 
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0-14 years: 21.5% (male 43,332/female 41,642)
15-64 years: 74.4% (male 177,365/female 116,552)
65 years and over: 4.1% (male 7,888/female 8,220) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 26.2 years
male: 26.8 years
female: 25.2 years (2011 est.)
 
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-0.151% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209
 
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14.83 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 136
 
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3.71 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 209
 
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-12.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 215
 
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urban population: 40% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 4.2% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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MALE (capital) 120,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.57 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.98 male(s)/female
total population: 1.4 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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37 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)
country comparison to the world: 107
 
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total: 27.45 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 75
male: 29.93 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 24.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 74.45 years
country comparison to the world: 101
male: 72.22 years
female: 76.8 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.81 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
 
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5.6% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 124
 
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1.595 physicians/1,000 population (2007)
country comparison to the world: 77
 
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2.6 beds/1,000 population (2005)
country comparison to the world: 86
 
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improved:
urban: 99% of population
rural: 86% of population
total: 91% of population
unimproved:
urban: 1% of population
rural: 14% of population
total: 9% of population (2008)
 
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improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 96% of population
total: 98% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0% of population
rural: 4% of population
total: 2% of population (2008)
 
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less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 140
 
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fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 162
 
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fewer than 100 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
 
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25.7% (2001)
country comparison to the world: 25
 
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11.2% of GDP (2009)
country comparison to the world: 5
 
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definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.8%
male: 93%
female: 94.7% (2006 Census)
 
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total: 12 years
male: 13 years
female: 12 years (2006)
 
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total: 22.2%
country comparison to the world: 42
male: 15.5%
female: 30.5% (2006)
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Republic of Maldives
conventional short form: Maldives
local long form: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
local short form: Dhivehi Raajje
 
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republic
 
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name: Male
geographic coordinates: 4 10 N, 73 30 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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7 provinces and 1 municipality*; Dhekunu (South), Maale*, Mathi Dhekunu (Upper South), Mathi Uthuru (Upper North), Medhu (Central), Medhu Dhekunu (South Central), Medhu Uthuru (North Central), Uthuru (North)
 
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26 July 1965 (from the UK)
 
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Independence Day, 26 July (1965)
 
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new constitution ratified 7 August 2008
 
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Islamic religious legal system with English common law influences, primarily in commercial matters
 
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has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
 
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18 years of age; universal
 
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chief of state: President Mohamed "Anni" NASHEED (since 11 November 2008); Vice President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 11 November 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Mohamed "Anni" NASHEED (since 11 November 2008); Vice President Mohamed WAHEED Hassan Maniku (since 11 November 2008)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers is appointed by the president
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: under the new constitution, the president elected by direct vote; president elected for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 8 and 28 October 2008 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: Mohamed NASHEED elected president; percent of vote - Mohamed NASHEED 54.3%, Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM 45.7%
 
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unicameral People's Council or People's Majlis (77 seats; members elected by direct vote to serve five-year terms); note - the Majlis in February 2009 passed legislation that increased the number of seats to 77 from 50
elections: last held on 9 May 2009 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: percent of vote - DRP 36.4%, MDP 33.8 %, PA 9.1%, DQP 2.6% Republican Party 1.2%, independents 16.9%; seats by party as of 23 February 2011 - DRP 27, MDP 33, PA 7, DQP 1, Republican Party 2, independents 7
 
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Supreme Court; Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president with approval of voting members of the People's Council; High Court; Trial Courts; all lower court judges are appointed by the Judicial Service Commission
 
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Adhaalath (Justice) Party or AP [Shaykh Hussein RASHEED Ahmed]; Dhivehi Quamee Party or DQP [Hassan SAEED]; Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (Maldivian People's Party) or DRP [THASMEEN Ali]; Gaumii Ithihaad (National Alliance) or GI [Mohamed WAHEED]; Islamic Democratic Party or IDP; Maldivian Democratic Party or MDP [Mariya Ahmed DIDI]; Maldives National Congress or MNC; Maldives Social Democratic Party or MSDP; People's Alliance or PA [Abdullah YAMEEN]; People's Party or PP; Poverty Alleviation Party or PAP; Republican (Jumhooree) Party or JP [Gasim IBRAHIM]; Social Liberal Party or SLP [Ibrahim ISMAIL]
 
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other: various unregistered political parties
 
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ADB, AOSIS, C, CP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS (observer), ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, SAARC, SACEP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
 
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chief of mission: Ambassador Abdul GHAFOOR Mohamed
chancery: 800 2nd Avenue, Suite 400E, New York, NY 10017
telephone: [1] (212) 599-6195
FAX: [1] (212) 661-6405
 
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the US does not have an embassy in Maldives; the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ambassador Patricia A. BUTENIS, is accredited to Maldives and makes periodic visits
 
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red with a large green rectangle in the center bearing a vertical white crescent moon; the closed side of the crescent is on the hoist side of the flag; red recalls those who have sacrificed their lives in defense of their country, the green rectangle represents peace and prosperity, and the white crescent signifies Islam
 
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crescent moon
 
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name: "Gaumee Salaam" (National Salute)
lyrics/music: Mohamed Jameel DIDI/Wannakuwattawaduge DON AMARADEVA
note: lyrics adopted 1948, music adopted 1972; between 1948 and 1972, the lyrics were sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne"
 
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Economy

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Tourism, Maldives' largest economic activity, accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second leading sector, but the fish catch has dropped sharply in recent years. Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play a lesser role in the economy, constrained by the limited availability of cultivable land and the shortage of domestic labor. Most staple foods must be imported. In the last decade, real GDP growth averaged around 6% per year except for 2005, when GDP declined following the Indian Ocean tsunami, and in 2009, when GDP shrank by 3% as tourist arrivals declined and capital flows plunged in the wake of the global financial crisis. Falling tourist arrivals and fish exports, combined with high government spending on social needs, subsidies, and civil servant salaries contributed to a balance of payments crisis, which was eased with a December 2009, $79.3 million dollar IMF standby agreement. However, after the first two disbursements, the IMF withheld subsequent disbursements due to concerns over Maldives' growing budget deficit. Maldives has had chronic budget deficits in recent years and the government's plans to cut expenditures have not progressed well. A new Goods and Services Tax on Tourism (GST) was introduced in January 2011 and a new Business Profit Tax is to be introduced during the year. These taxes are expected to increase government revenue by about 25%. The government has privatized the main airport and is partially privatizing the energy sector. Tourism will remain the engine of the economy. The Government of the Maldives has aggressively promoted building new island resorts. Due to increasing tourist arrivals, the government expects GDP growth around 4.0% in 2011. Diversifying the economy beyond tourism and fishing, reforming public finance, and increasing employment opportunities are major challenges facing the government. Over the longer term Maldivian authorities worry about the impact of erosion and possible global warming on their low-lying country; 80% of the area is 1 meter or less above sea level.
 
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$2.734 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
$2.532 billion (2009 est.)
$2.658 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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$1.87 billion (2010 est.)
 
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8% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18
-4.8% (2009 est.)
12.8% (2008 est.)
 
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$6,900 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 133
$6,400 (2009 est.)
$6,900 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
 
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agriculture: 5.6%
industry: 16.9%
services: 77.5% (2009 est.)
 
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110,000 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 181
 
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agriculture: 11%
industry: 23%
services: 65% (2006 est.)
 
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14.5% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
14.4% (2006 est.)
 
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16% (2008)
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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revenues: $476 million
expenditures: $758 million (2010 est.)
 
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25.5% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 124
 
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-15.1% of GDP (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
 
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6% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 165
7.3% (2009 est.)
 
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2.75% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
16% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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10.38% (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 77
13% (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$588 million (31 December 2010)
country comparison to the world: 158
$581 million (31 December 2009)
 
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$1.239 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
$1.064 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
 
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$1.548 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
$1.08 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
 
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$NA
 
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coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish
 
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tourism, fish processing, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, garments, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining
 
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-0.9% (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
 
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542 million kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
 
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542 million kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 163
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
 
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6,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
 
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 192
 
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6,088 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 169
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168
 
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0 cu m (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 203
 
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0 cu m (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 149
 
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0 cu m (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 171
 
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-$463 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 109
-$419 million (2009 est.)
 
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$163 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 183
$331 million (2008 est.)
 
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fish
 
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Thailand 17.9%, Sri Lanka 16.9%, France 14.2%, UK 12.1%, Italy 9.2%, Tanzania 4.9% (2010)
 
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$967 million (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 172
$1.388 billion (2008 est.)
 
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petroleum products, ships, foodstuffs, clothing, intermediate and capital goods
 
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Singapore 24.7%, UAE 17.2%, India 8.6%, Malaysia 8.1%, Sri Lanka 5.7%, Thailand 5.7%, China 5.6% (2010)
 
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$943 million (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 153
$933 million (2009 est.)
 
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rufiyaa (MVR) per US dollar -
12.8 (2010)
12.8 (2008)
12.8 (2007)
12.8 (2006)
 
 
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Communications

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48,000 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 166
 
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494,400 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 164
 
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general assessment: telephone services have improved; interatoll communication through microwave links; all inhabited islands and resorts are connected with telephone and fax service
domestic: each island now has at least 1 public telephone, and there are mobile-cellular networks with a rapidly expanding subscribership that exceeds 100 per 100 persons
international: country code - 960; linked to international submarine cable Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); satellite earth station - 3 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) (2009)
 
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state-owned radio and television monopoly until recently; state-owned TV operates 2 channels; 2 privately-owned TV stations; state owns Voice of Maldives and operates both an entertainment and a music-based station; there are 5 privately-owned radio broadcast stations operating (2009)
 
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.mv
 
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2,164 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 153
 
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86,400 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 164
 
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Transportation

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5 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 184
 
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total: 3
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2010)
 
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total: 88 km
country comparison to the world: 215
paved roads: 88 km - 60 km in Male; 14 km on Addu Atolis; 14 km on Laamu
note: village roads are mainly compacted coral (2006)
 
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total: 24
country comparison to the world: 94
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 20, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 2
registered in other countries: 4 (Panama 3, Tuvalu 1) (2010)
 
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Male
 
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Military

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Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF): Marine Corps, Security Protection Group, Coast Guard (2010)
 
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18-28 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2010)
 
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males age 16-49: 156,319
females age 16-49: 98,815 (2010 est.)
 
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males age 16-49: 135,374
females age 16-49: 85,181 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 4,167
female: 3,595 (2010 est.)
 
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5.5% of GDP (2005 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
 
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the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), with its small size and with little serviceable equipment, is inadequate to prevent external aggression and is primarily tasked to reinforce the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and ensure security in the exclusive economic zone (2008)
 
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Transnational Issues

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none
 
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IDPs: 1,000-10,000 (December 2004 tsunami victims) (2007)
 
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current situation: The Maldives is primarily a destination country for migrant workers from Bangladesh and, to a lesser extent, India, some of whom are subjected to forced labor primarily in the construction and service sectors; some women and girls also are subjected to sex trafficking; some underage Maldivian children are transported to Male from other islands for forced domestic service, and a small number were reportedly sexually abused
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - the government has not demonstrated increased efforts to address human trafficking and lacks systematic procedures for identifying victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations, and it did not investigate or prosecute trafficking-related offenses or take concrete actions to protect trafficking victims and prevent trafficking; counter-trafficking efforts are impeded by the lack of understanding of the issue, a legal structure, and a legal definition of trafficking (2011)
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