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    [Country map of Maldives]


    Location: Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India

    Geographic coordinates: 3 15 N, 73 00 E

    Map references: Asia

    total: 300 sq km
    land: 300 sq km
    water: 0 sq km

    Area - comparative: about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC

    Land boundaries: 0 km

    Coastline: 644 km

    Maritime claims:
    exclusive economic zone : 35-310 nm as defined by geographic coordinates; segment of zone coincides with maritime boundary with India
    territorial sea : 12 nm

    Climate: tropical; hot, humid; dry, northeast monsoon (November to March); rainy, southwest monsoon (June to August)

    Terrain: flat, with white sandy beaches

    Elevation extremes:
    lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
    highest point : unnamed location on Wilingili 24 m

    Natural resources: fish

    Land use:
    arable land: 10%
    permanent crops : 0%
    permanent pastures: 3%
    forests and woodland : 3%
    other: 84% (1993 est.)

    Irrigated land: NA sq km

    Natural hazards: low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise

    Environment - current issues: depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies

    Environment - international agreements:
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
    signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

    Geography - note: 1,190 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls; archipelago of strategic location astride and along major sea lanes in Indian Ocean


    Population: 280,391 (July 1997 est.)

    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 47% (male 67,967; female 64,643)
    15-64 years : 50% (male 71,316; female 67,993)
    65 years and over: 3% (male 4,534; female 3,938) (July 1997 est.)

    Population growth rate: 3.47% (1997 est.)

    Birth rate: 40.98 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Death rate: 6.3 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
    15-64 years : 1.05 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 1.15 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

    Infant mortality rate: 44.1 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 66.86 years
    male: 65.23 years
    female: 68.58 years (1997 est.)

    Total fertility rate: 5.95 children born/woman (1997 est.)

    noun: Maldivian(s)
    adjective: Maldivian

    Ethnic groups: Sinhalese, Dravidian, Arab, African

    Religions: Sunni Muslim

    Languages: Maldivian Divehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials

    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 93.2%
    male: 93.3%
    female: 93% (1995 est.)


    Country name:
    conventional long form: Republic of Maldives
    conventional short form: Maldives
    local long form : Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
    local short form: Dhivehi Raajje

    Data code: MV

    Government type: republic

    National capital: Male (Maale)

    Administrative divisions: 19 atolls (atholhu, singular and plural) and 1 other first-order administrative division*; Alifu, Baa, Dhaalu, Faafu, Gaafu Alifu, Gaafu Dhaalu, Gnaviyani, Haa Alifu, Haa Dhaalu, Kaafu, Laamu, Lhaviyani, Maale*, Meemu, Noonu, Raa, Seenu, Shaviyani, Thaa, Vaavu

    Independence: 26 July 1965 (from UK)

    National holiday: Independence Day, 26 July (1965)

    Constitution: 4 June 1968

    Legal system: based on Islamic law with admixtures of English common law primarily in commercial matters; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

    Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal

    Executive branch:
    chief of state: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM (since 11 November 1978); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM (since 11 November 1978); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    cabinet: Ministry of Atolls appointed by the president; note - need not be members of Majilis
    elections : president elected by secret ballot of the Majlis for a five-year term; election last held 1 October 1993 (next to be held NA October 1998)
    election results: President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM reelected; percent of Majlis vote - Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM 92.76%

    Legislative branch: unicameral Citizens' Council or Majlis (48 seats; 40 elected by popular vote, 8 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)
    elections: last held 2 December 1994 (next to be held NA December 1999)
    election results : percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 40

    Judicial branch: High Court

    Political parties and leaders: although political parties are not banned, none exist

    International organization participation: AsDB, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IMF, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OIC, SAARC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

    Diplomatic representation in the US: Maldives does not have an embassy in the US, but does have a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, headed by Ahmed ZAKI

    Diplomatic representation from the US: the US does not have an embassy in Maldives; the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka is accredited to Maldives and makes periodic visits there

    Flag description: red with a large green rectangle in the center bearing a vertical white crescent; the closed side of the crescent is on the hoist side of the flag


    Economy - overview: During the 1980s tourism became one of the most important and highest growth sectors of the economy. In 1994, tourism, Maldives largest industry, accounted for about 18% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives' foreign exchange receipts. Fishing is a second leading growth sector. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. The Maldivian Government initiated an economic reform program in 1989 initially by lifting import quotas and opening some exports to the private sector. Subsequently, it has liberalized regulations to allow more foreign investment. Agriculture and manufacturing continue to play a minor 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 1994, industry which consisted mainly of garment production, boat building, and handicrafts accounted for about 15% of GDP.

    GDP: purchasing power parity - $423 million (1995 est.)

    GDP - real growth rate: 5.8% (1995 est.)

    GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,620 (1995 est.)

    GDP - composition by sector:
    agriculture: 21.5%
    industry: 15.3%
    services: 63.2% (1994 est.)

    Inflation rate - consumer price index: 7.7% (1995 est.)

    Labor force:
    total: 56,435 (1990 est.)
    by occupation: fishing industry and agriculture 25%, services 21%, manufacturing and construction 21%, trade, restaurants, and hotels 16%, transportation and communication 10%, other 7%

    Unemployment rate: NEGL%

    revenues: $88 million (excluding foreign grants)
    expenditures: $141 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1995 est.)

    Industries: fish processing, tourism, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, garments, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining

    Industrial production growth rate: 6.3% (1994 est.)

    Electricity - capacity: 18,000 kW (1994)

    Electricity - production: 40 million kWh (1994)

    Electricity - consumption per capita: 163 kWh (1994 est.)

    Agriculture - products: coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fishing

    total value: $50 million (f.o.b., 199)
    commodities: fish, clothing
    partners: Sri Lanka, US, Germany, Singapore, UK

    total value : $268 million (f.o.b., 1995 est.)
    commodities: consumer goods, intermediate and capital goods, petroleum products
    partners : Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand

    Debt - external: $137.5 million (1994 est.)

    Economic aid:
    recipient: ODA, $NA

    Currency: 1 rufiyaa (Rf) = 100 laari

    Exchange rates: rufiyaa (Rf) per US$1 - 11.770 (January 1997), 11.770 (1996), 11.770 (1995), 11.586 (1994), 10.957 (1993), 10.569 (1992)

    Fiscal year: calendar year


    Telephones: 8,523 (1992 est.)

    Telephone system: minimal domestic and international facilities
    domestic: inter-atoll communication primarily through HF transceivers and VHF/UHF telephones
    international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)

    Radio broadcast stations: AM 2, FM 1, shortwave 0

    Radios: 28,284 (1992 est.)

    Television broadcast stations: 1

    Televisions: 7,309 (1992 est.)


    Railways: 0 km

    total: NA km
    paved: NA km
    unpaved: NA km; note - Male has 9.6 km of coral highways within the city (1988 est.)

    Ports and harbors: Gan, Male

    Merchant marine:
    total: 19 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 70,079 GRT/108,455 DWT
    ships by type: cargo 17, oil tanker 1, short-sea passenger 1 (1996 est.)

    Airports: 2 (1996 est.)

    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 2
    over 3,047 m: 1
    2,438 to 3,047 m : 1 (1996 est.)

    Heliports: 0


    Military branches: National Security Service (paramilitary police force)

    Military manpower - availability:
    males age 15-49 : 61,408 (1997 est.)

    Military manpower - fit for military service:
    males: 34,245 (1997 est.)

    Military expenditures - dollar figure: $NA

    Military expenditures - percent of GDP: NA%

    Transnational Issues

    Disputes - international: none