Asia

Maldives country profile

Map of Maldives

The Maldives is an Islamic republic which lies off 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 measures more than 1.8 metres (six feet) above sea level, making the country vulnerable to a rise in sea levels associated with global warming.

With its abundant sea life and sandy beaches, The Maldives is portrayed by travel companies as a tropical paradise.

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

FACTS

Republic of Maldives

Capital: Male

  • Population 324,000

  • Area 298 sq km (115 sq miles)

  • Major language Divehi

  • Major religion Islam

  • Life expectancy 76 years (men), 79 years (women)

  • Currency rufiyaa

Getty Images

LEADER

President: Abdulla Yameen

Image copyright Getty Images

Abdulla Yameen won a presidential election run-off in November 2013, narrowly defeating the favourite Mohamed Nasheed in a ballot which voters hoped would end nearly two years of sometimes violent political turmoil.

Mr Nasheed, the Maldives' first democratically-elected president in 2008, was forced to resign in 2012 in what he said was a coup.

Political turmoil flared again early in 2018, when Mr Yameen refused to obey a court order to release nine political prisoners. The main opposition said the refusal amounted to a coup. The president declared a state of emergency.

Mr Yameen is a half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whose autocratic rule lasted 30 years until 2008.

While in office, Mr Yameen has taken steps to restrict opposition protests against his government.

MEDIA

Image copyright Getty Images

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

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption 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 Abd al-Gayoom.

1980s - Development of tourist industry fuels economic growth.

1982 - Rejoins Commonwealth.

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

2012 - President Mohamed Nasheed is ousted in a coup.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Maldives is made up of several scattered islands, including the capital Male

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