Maldives country profile

  • 28 September 2015
  • From the section Asia
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.


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


President: Abdulla Yameen

Image copyright Getty Images

Abdulla Yameen won the 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 political turmoil.

The crisis occasionally spilled over into violent protests after Mr Nasheed, the Maldives' first democratically-elected president in 2008, was forced to resign in 2012 in what he said was a coup.

Three attempts to hold the election were annulled or delayed in as many months.

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


Image copyright Getty Images

The government operates TV and radio networks. A handful of private TV and radio stations have been licensed.

Broadcasters and newspapers carry criticism of the state, but officials have powers to close outlets. Self-regulation means that little official action is taken against journalists.


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.

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

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