Facts about Maldives

World Facts Index

Mal? the capital of MaldivesThe Maldives was long a sultanate, first under Dutch and then under British protection. It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence. Since 1978, President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM - currently in his sixth term in office - has dominated the islands' political scene. 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 has been slow, however, and many promised reforms have been slow to come to fruition. Nonetheless, political parties were legalized in 2005. A constituent assembly - termed the "special majlis" - has pledged to complete the drafting of a new constitution by the end of 2007 and first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system are slated for November 2008. Tourism and fishing are being developed on the archipelago.

Geography of Maldives

Location:
Southern Asia, group of atolls in the Indian Ocean, south-southwest of India
Coordinates:
3 15 N, 73 00 E
Area:
total: 300 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 300 sq km
Area comparative:
about 1.7 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
Coastline:
644 km
Maritime claims:
measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
territorial sea: 12 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
contiguous zone: 24 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 island in the Addu Atoll 2.4 m
Natural resources:
fish
Natural hazards:
low level of islands makes them very sensitive to sea level rise
Environment current issues:
depletion of freshwater aquifers threatens water supplies; global warming and sea level rise; coral reef bleaching
Geography - note:
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

Population of Maldives

Population:
385,925 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 43.4% (male 80,113/female 75,763)
15-64 years: 53.5% (male 98,040/female 94,029)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 5,477/female 5,586)
Median age:
17.9 years
Growth rate:
2.78%
Infant mortality:
54.89 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 64.41 years
male: 63.08 years
female: 65.8 years
Fertility rate:
4.9 children born/woman
Nationality:
noun: Maldivian(s)
adjective: Maldivian
Ethnic groups:
South Indians, Sinhalese, Arabs
Religions:
Sunni Muslim
Languages:
Maldivian Dhivehi (dialect of Sinhala, script derived from Arabic), English spoken by most government officials
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.2%
male: 97.1%
female: 97.3% 

Government

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Maldives
local short form: Dhivehi Raajje
local long form: Dhivehi Raajjeyge Jumhooriyyaa
Government type:
republic
Capital:
Male
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:
adopted January 1998
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)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president nominated by the Majlis; nomination must be ratified by a national referendum (at least a 51% approval margin is required); president elected for a five-year term.
Legislative branch:
unicameral People's Council or Majlis (50 seats; 42 elected by popular vote, 8 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
High Court
Political parties and leaders:
political parties were allowed to register in June 2005; the first entrants are: Adhaalath (Justice) Party or AP [Abdul Majeed Abdul BARI]; Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (Maldivian People's Party) or DRP [Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM]; Islamic Democratic Party or IDP [Omar NASEER]; Maldivian Democratic Party or MDP [Mohamed NASHEED]

Economy

Tourism, Maldives' largest industry, accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives' foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second leading sector. 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. Industry, which consists mainly of garment production, boat building, and handicrafts, accounts for about 7% of GDP. The Maldivian Government began 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. Real GDP growth averaged over 7.5% per year for more than a decade. In late December 2004, a major tsunami left more than 100 dead, 12,000 displaced, and property damage exceeding $300 million. As a result of the tsunami, the GDP contracted by about 3.6% in 2005. A rebound in tourism, post-tsunami reconstruction, and development of new resorts helped the economy recover quickly. The trade deficit has expanded sharply as a result of high oil prices and imports of construction material. Diversifying beyond tourism and fishing and increasing employment are the 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.

GDP:
$1.588 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
7.5%
GDP per capita:
$4,600
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 20%
industry: 18%
services: 62% 
Inflation rate:
5.6% 
Labor force:
88,000
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 22%, industry 18%, services 60%
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
Industries:
fish processing, tourism, shipping, boat building, coconut processing, garments, woven mats, rope, handicrafts, coral and sand mining
Agriculture:
coconuts, corn, sweet potatoes; fish
Exports:
fish, clothing
Export partners:
Thailand 30.6%, UK 13.8%, Sri Lanka 13.4%, Japan 13.3%, Algeria 5.8% 
Imports:
petroleum products, ships, foodstuffs, textiles, clothing, intermediate and capital goods
Import partners:
Singapore 26.5%, UAE 10.2%, Sri Lanka 10%, India 9.6%, Malaysia 7.1%, Thailand 5.2%, Bahrain 5.1%
Currency:
rufiyaa (MVR)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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