Location: The Republic of Maldives lying about 675 km south-west of Sri Lanka, consists of more than 1,200 small coral islands (199 inhabited), grouped in 19 atolls, in the Indian Ocean.
History: Maldives, called the Maldive Islands until April 1969, formerly had an elected Sultan as head of state. The islands were placed under British protection, with internal self-government, in 1887. They became a republic in January 1953 but the sultanate was restored in February 1954. Maldives became fully independent, outside the Commonwealth, on 26 July 1965. Following a referendum, the country became republic again in November 1968, with Ibrahim Nasir, Prime Minister since 1954, as President.
In 1956 the Maldivian and British governments agreed to the establishment of a Royal Air Force staging post on Gan, an island in the southernmost atoll, Addu. In 1975 the British Government's decision to close the base and to evacuate British forces created a large commercial and military gap. In October 1977 President Nasir rejected an offer of an annul payment of US $ 1 m. from the USSR to lease the former base on Gan, announcing that he would not lease the island for military purposes, nor lease it to a superpower.
In 1981, the President announced plans to establish an international business complex on Gan. By 1982 two garment factories were operational, and a third was under construction. Gan airport was declared international airport in 1988.
In March 1975, President Nasir dismissed the Prime Minister, Ahmed Zaki, and the post of Prime Minister was abolished. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Minister of Transport became President in November 1978. An attempted coup took place in November 1988. It was scotched with assistance from India.
Government: Legislative power is held by the unicameral Citizens' Council (Majilis), with 48 members. The country has 20 administrative districts. There are no political parties. Maldives is divided into the capital and 19 other administrative districts, each under an appointed governor (verin) assisted by local chiefs (katheebum), who are also appointed.
Economy: Most of the country's population live on tiny coral islands in scattered atolls. These islanders are generally outside a money economy, subsisting by fishing and collecting coconuts. Arable land is minimal. Virtually all the principal staple foods have to be imported.
The islands are covered with coconut palms and yield millet, cassava, yams, melons and other tropical fruit as well as coconut produce. The main industries are fishing, tourism, shipping, reedware, lacquer-work, coconut processing and garment manufacturing. The GDP has grown at an annual rate of around 6% from 1992-93, fuelled mainly by an expansion and growth of tourism industry (an average of 10% annually) and the modernization of the fisheries sector. Bonito ('Maldive fish') is the main export commodity and source of foreign exchange after tourism. White sandy beaches and multicoloured coral formations are chief tourist attractions.
Mission in India:
Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Maldives
702-703, Deepali Building, 92, Nehru Place,
New Delhi - 110 019, India
Tel: 91 - 11 - 26229336
Fax: 91 - 11 - 26481352
Indian Mission in Maldives:
High Commission of India
Athireege Aage, Ameeru Ahmed Magu
Henveiru, Male, Republic of Maldives
Tel: 00 - 960 - 323014/ 16
Fax: 00 - 960 - 324778